Wanda Jenkins doesn’t want political agendas to affect what future U.S. leaders learn.
Jenkins, 81, said the public should have more input on which textbooks are used to teach more than 5 million students across the state.
“It shouldn’t be, ‘This person has a nice title, we’ll get them to look at it,’” said Jenkins, who has two great-grandchildren attending public school in Harker Heights.
Instead, Jenkins believes parents should get involved.
“Not everyone has to be a Christian, but not everyone has to be spoon-fed (about evolution) either,” she said. “It should be up to the parent or the children. ... (Education) is not a pill that you open wide and swallow; it’s supposed to tickle the brain of the child, make them interested and make them learn more.”
Jenkins plans to contact her local representatives to discuss the Texas Board of Education’s recent approval of tighter rules on the volunteer-based citizen panels that review proposed textbooks.
Although the 15-member board approves textbooks for school districts to use, objections raised by reviewers can influence its decision.
Friday’s unanimous vote mandates teachers or professors be given priority to serve on the textbook review panels for subjects in their areas of expertise.
The new rule also enables the board to appoint outside experts to check objections raised by review panels and ensure they are based on fact, not ideology.
It also requires proposed books be reviewed by at least two panel members, so a single volunteer can’t raise objections, and restricts board members’ contact with reviewers to avoid unfair influence.
“I’m a little reluctant to weigh in on what’s happening at the state level,” said Robert Muller, Killeen Independent School District superintendent.
Instead, Muller focuses on his district’s approach in determining which books will be used in classrooms.
Diana Miller, assistant superintendent for Killeen ISD, said a committee — largely comprised of Killeen ISD teachers across different grade levels and subjects — meets with publishers to review potential textbooks for the school to adopt.
The Killeen ISD started meeting with publishers a few weeks ago to review which math textbooks it will adopt for kindergarten through eighth-grade students and which science textbooks it will use to teach kindergarten through 12th-graders next school year.
The committee will take their recommendation to the Killeen ISD board of trustees later this year.
“We review them for appropriateness and content,” Muller said. “We want to make sure we receive broad-based input on any recommendation taken to the board. We feel pretty good about the process we’ve established.”
At the state level, Texas education board member David Bradley said he did his best to insert language mitigating what was approved. But, he said, “Liberals are really trying to make it difficult for Christians and conservatives to have a voice in public education.”
Meanwhile, Texas education board member Thomas Ratliff said, “it won’t eliminate politics, but it will make it where it’s a more informed process.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.