How the Texas Textbook Wars Could Affect You

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 10, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, there's a new war. It's over textbooks and it is raging in Texas. A Texas state school board starting debate today over what should be taught in Texas social studies classes. Here's what you may not know. What happens in Texas could actually affect you.

Griff Jenkins is live in Austin, Texas, the heart of the battle -- Griff.

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Greta, it's been a long day, and there's a long way to go. This is a very complex and detailed story. You can't just put it a box. I'll do my best to sum it up.

But as you mentioned in the lead, the Texas Board of Education is voting and making changes to the curriculum for social studies, which has been adapted by publishers because they want to sell the books to Texas, which is one of the largest consumers of textbooks in the country, hence other states follow their lead. That's how it (INAUDIBLE) affect you.

Why has it been a long day? Because they covered world history and just broke about 30 minutes ago, after being at it all day long. They had a few hours of public testimony. And the 15-member board can offer amendments (ph) on everything. They still have to cover topics like geography, economics and government before we get to world history, where the real fight is.

Now, the fight -- the fight is the conservative traditional values defenders who believe that American history is being hijacked by politically correct liberal agenda, versus the moderate sort of Democratic side that believes that the conservative bloc within this board has hijacked the Board of Education for a very socially Christian conservative narrow view. That's where the fight is.

And the main issues are inclusion of minorities, American exceptionalism, and the role Christianity plays in the founding of our country. But let me take you back. Again, we haven't even begun to get there to that part. It is coming tomorrow.

But earlier today, I talked with some of those board members. Here's what they had to say.


DON MCLEROY, TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER: The issue that's most important to me, I guess, I'll be making an amendment about American exceptionalism. I'd like to add that to the U.S. history. And what I see is American exceptionalism is it's American values, the values of the individual, the values that we have of the limited government, that those things that have made us great, have made us different from the rest of the world. I don't want to be just like the rest of the world. I don't want to share the world's values. America's different. Our students need to understand that.

GARRETT MIZE, STUDENT PROTESTER: The students are tired of them playing politics in the classrooms and forcing conservative, far-right political agendas and ideologies into our textbooks.

JENKINS: This seven-member conservative voting bloc -- it's been reported that they've hijacked the board for sort of their perspective, to drive their agenda. How do you see it?

MAVIS KNIGHT, TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER: I think that is an accurate description of what has happened. I think there's a lot of projections going on when they talk about other people hijacking the curriculum process. It's really a reflection of what they have done. They have controlled every curriculum standard that we have passed this term, and last year and the year before that.

JENKINS: What does the rest of the nation need to know about what's happening here at this board meeting and what it means?

PATRICIA HENRY, TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER: Well, I think you have made it very clear that the textbooks are the result of what comes out from this standard, the curriculum and textbooks. And we are the largest purchasers of textbooks. So therefore, we do influence what happens in other parts of the country.

But I think what's happening today -- and I hope with the media here that y'all will have an understanding that a lot of misinformation has been going out for the last -- especially the last three or four days about things that are not -- not happening, not true. The idea that Texas does not teach about early American history, starts at 1877 -- that's not true. We start much earlier and do a very thorough job. I would put the Texas social studies curriculum up against any curriculum in the United States. It's very, very good.

DIANA GOMEZ, STUDENT PROTESTER: I hope that with this sort of uprising of students, they do listen. And if not, then at least to bring awareness to the people in America of what's going on and that they should really pay attention to what's going on in their textbooks and that they can influence their children and what they're learning and that it is not just something that's an issue in Texas, but nationwide, as well.


JENKINS: The board reconvenes tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM local. We haven't seen the fireworks yet, but this is Texas, Greta, and it's coming on that American history portion I talked about. We'll bring that to you tomorrow -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you.

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