A Battle for the History Books

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 11, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Fireworks flying in day two of the war over textbooks in Texas. The Texas state school board debating what should be taught in Texas social studies classes.

Things are getting heated, and Griff Jenkins is live on the ground in Texas. Griff?

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Greta, there's significant development here tonight. Just moments ago the board adjourned after more than 12 hours of amendments.

But what's significant is that "Gang of Seven," the seven social conservatives, have ruled the day. They've won every desirable victory they could possibly have won in these amendments, because as the day reaches boiling point, the first of five Democrats threw her hands up and walked out.

As this meeting concluded, there were only one Democrat left, and you vote amongst present members. Those seven had a majority for everything they wanted, from taking out hip-hop to putting in American exceptionalism and the role of religion.

We spoke with the chair of this board about what happened earlier today as well as one of the board's most vocal critics.


JENKINS: I'm with the chairman of the state board of education of Texas. Her name is Gail Lowe. And folks have been referring to you as the kindly Margaret Thatcher. Are you aware of that?


JENKINS: They say you control a powerful board because of the implications to the nation's classrooms and textbooks. But let's hear it from you. What does the national audience need to know about the work you are doing here?

LOWE: I think the standards we adopt here in Texas what is taught in our classrooms and used in our textbooks impacts not only across our state but across our nation. We are a large purchaser of textbooks, so obviously from that standpoint.

But as one of the states not signed on to the national curriculum we still have authority over our curriculum. We've included immense hours of public input. And that public input is very important in our process.

So to the ability that we have to craft standards so students can get the correct social studies education, learning about our founding documents and patriot fathers, that's why this is really critical for us to get right.

CYNTHIA DUNBAR, REPUBLICAN BOARD MEMBER: This debate is too broad. One of the things that we keep being hounded by the other side is that the conservatives are trying to inject religion into what is taught. No we're not. But nor do we want our religious history to be tainted and drawn from a viewpoint that is not historically accurate. So I cannot support this motion.

MARY HELEN BERLANGA, DEMOCRATIC BOARD MEMBER: This is it, I'm leaving for the evening because I don't think we are getting anywhere, and everything that I see coming before me is eliminating something on our side. We can just pretend this is white America, Hispanics don't exist.

JENKINS: Kathy Miller, who heads-up Texas Freedom Network, a religious liberty watchdog group and a critic of this board, has been watching the proceedings for the last few days. Kathy, what is your opinion of what's happened?

KATHY MILLER, PRESIDENT, TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK: Today we saw a year's worth of volunteer work by teachers and experts in social studies suffer a death by 1,000 cuts.

And in particular it was really sad, I think, that this board voted to discard the significance of Thomas Jefferson's writings on revolution from 1750 to the present, and to deny students right to learn about the fundamental protections for religious liberty included in the First Amendment to the United States constitution.

I'm disturbed that politicians on the board are making decisions that they are not consulting with any expert about what they are doing, and they are not necessarily thinking about what kids need to be successful in college or in the jobs for the 21st century.


JENKINS: And so just to recap, again, the seven conservatives ruled the day, four of the five Democrats not in there as meeting concluded. This has set the stage, because the board which will make a formal vote tomorrow will be made public.

But in May the final vote happens on all the things that have happened over the past few days. We'll be there in May. Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you.

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