HAF Education Involvement: Texas

On November 21, 2014, the Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt its new social studies textbooks, which resulted in a dramatic transformation of how Hinduism is presented in world history and world geography content in the state.

The process, called Proclamation 2015, began in 2013 with the Texas Education Agency’s call for publisher submissions. HAF was involved since the beginning of the process, meeting with TEA staff and members of the state Board of Education to highlight their concerns about content.

In addition to outreach to individual publishers, HAF conducted teacher trainings across the state, including at the 2014 Texas Council for the Social Studies, prior to the adoption vote. As a result, educators across the country were better prepared to teach about Hinduism more accurately.

During the public comment period, HAF, working with academics from around the country, submitted a list of factual errors. Other Hindu community members, as well as groups like the Texas Freedom Network and the Houston-based Indian History Awareness and Research group, also joined in submitting comments on factually inaccurate passages. You can see the full list of HAF’s public comments - and the publisher’s responses - here.

The changes, reflected in 2015-16 social studies textbooks, include:

  • more balanced discussion of ancient Hinduism, particularly the transition from the Harappan age through the Vedic period
  • explanation of varna and jati
  • more in-depth explanation of concepts such as karma, dharma, moksha, and samsara
  • inclusion of Hindu leaders throughout the centuries, including Adi Shankara and Ram Mohan Roy

Texas is the largest volume buyer of textbooks in the country, and Texas version textbooks are adopted in more than 20 states, meaning that changes to the way Hinduism is depicted will be reflected in other states in the coming years.

For a record of HAF’s work in Texas, both in Proclamation 2015 and during the revision of the state curriculum in 2010, click on the links below.

http://religiondispatches.org/6-overlooked-takeaways-from-a-reviewer-of-controversial-texas-textbooks/

http://hafsite.org/blog/what-hafs-victory-means-to-a-texan/

http://hafsite.org/blog/texas-textbook-adoption-is-just-one-step-in-a-process-for-hindu-americans/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/murali-balaji/texas-textbook-vote-just_b_6327812.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/murali-balaji/hiccups-in-education-port_b_5876686.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/murali-balaji/why-state-textbook-review_b_4697301.html

https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2010-church-state/au-bulletin/au-allies-back-resolution-on-texas-curriculum