Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Right-Wing Myth Of Liberal Textbooks

I'm sure we have all heard the arguments against textbooks and education coming from the fringe of conservatives. I really shouldn't say fringe, since popular conservative voices and leadership have adopted this belief that America's education system was infiltrated by progressives seeking to create an army of mindless Marxists. Just consider the politicization of textbook content that took place in Texas not to long ago, when conservatives hijacked the Texas State Board of Education, to inject a little dose of conservative history.
Many on the board, which is made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, seem to have concluded that Texas' classrooms have been infected with a liberal bias.
Some of the issues that were addressed included upping the content on Christianity, the conservative resurgence of the 80s and 90s (including reference to the Moral Majority), and viewing Sen. Joseph McCarthy in a more positive light. While there were less controversial changes, it seemed the conservatives struck a chord with certain changes. The measure unfortunately passed.

This brings me to today. I was reading an article about campaign contributions and I just happened to have an old history book sitting on my desk. That is when I noticed the publisher printed on the spine of the book, and considering the topic of what I was reading, I had decided to merge the two and take a look at just how liberal these text book manufacturers really were, and I figured a good way to do so was by checking into their past political contributions. While a contribution does not really prove much in the way of manipulating an educational system, it can show a political leaning, and can offer a little insight, such as who did the company give money to and what were their positions on certain things like education. There is also the question of contradiction - if these book publishers are teaching liberal propaganda, but their contributions show an overwhelming support to conservative candidates, then where is the notion born that these publishers are liberal (I'm sure the Glenn Becks of the world would insist that liberalism was inserted into these textbooks unknowingly to the companies).

As a case study, lets take a look at McGraw-Hill, one of the largest publishers of educational materials in the United States. Doing a search on the last three presidents of the company, who where in charge since 1974, with the Center for Responsive Politics, I had found a mix of political donations.

I found a total of $30,700 donated to Democratic candidates and institutions over the past 18 years ($32,700 including a donation to an Independent Joe Lieberman). In that same period of time, $75,401 was donated to Republican candidates and organizations. Doing the math, one would plainly see that Democrats got 28% of the total campaign contributions while Republicans got 70%. Who were some of the recipients? Lets take a look at all of them:
Lieberman, Joe
Rangel, Charles B
Nadler, Jerrold
Sawyer, Tom
Landrieu, Mary L
Kanjorski, Paul E
Gillibrand, Kirsten
Dodd, Chris
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick
Maloney, Carolyn B
Hollings, Fritz
Bradley, Bill
National Leadership PAC

Shays, Christopher (largest recipient)
Thune, John
Franks, Gary A
Giuliani, Rudolph W
Thomas, Bill
Coble, Howard
Nielsen, Mark
Hastert, Dennis
Dole, Bob
Lazio, Rick A
Hyde, Henry J
Faircloth, Lauch
Bush, George W
McIntosh, David M
Bordonaro, Molly H
Coverdell, Paul
Campbell, Tom
Freshmen PAC
Keep Our Majority PAC
Republican Central Cmte of South Dakota
Republican National Cmte
National Republican Senatorial Cmte
National Republican Congressional Cmte
RNC-State Victory '96 Cmte
RNC/Repub National State Elections Cmte
Recognize some of the names?

Now I'm sure there can be something found wrong with the numerous Republican candidates above.  Like Rick Lazio, who had campaigned on the abolishment of the Senate and for the institution of a unicameral legislative body, or for "expanding funding for public education and merit pay for teachers."  Any one of these people can be argued by the far-right as not embodying conservatism and embracing the leftist agenda.  Such arguments have been made against former President George W. Bush or Bob Dole, whom conservatives should really love, considering his record and especially since his comments against Bill Clinton's health care plan in the 90s, stating "There is no crisis in health care," which is vaguely similar to remarks made by the GOP of today.

I am also certain that a right-wing conservative can find that donations to Democrats like Charles Rangel, Chris Dodd, or Mary Landrieu outweigh any donation made by Republicans.  Looking at the world with blinders on is no excuse.  This look inside the political contributions of the heads of one of America's largest textbook publishers is evidence that the world is not black or white.  The fringe want to apply a right-wing purity test to everything they come across, and should it fail,they will work tirelessly to destroy what they view as offensive.


  1. Don't hate on TX.. that's my home and many of us have all our teeth! Certainly (unfortunately?) there are many more "conservative" people here than me... It's funny that the "THEY" that wanted to "take Thomas Jefferson out of school books" is the "conservative" crowd, but the liberals/democrats get blamed for it! I got in a fight with my mom over this one!

  2. I actually got a great deal of respect for Texas... unfortunately the text book controversy has given me a bit of a bad taste, but mostly towards the religious-right conservatives.

    I just wish people would take a more moderate approach to things instead of trying to push for one idea, while ignoring or attacking the opposing ideas.


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