Tennessee Lawmakers Grabbing Control Of Textbook Commission From Governor

Credit Corey Seeman via Flickr

Credit Corey Seeman via Flickr

The Tennessee legislature is trying to seize control of the state’s textbook commission over concerns about liberal bias. A bill passed an important hurdle in the Senate today over the objections of the Haslam Administration.

Currently, the governor appoints all 10 members of the panel that authorizes every textbook used in the state. But the legislature wants authority over naming a majority of the commission.

The power grab follows a campaign by activists to highlight instances of what they see anti-American and anti-Semitic bias in social studies books.

State Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, who is sponsoring the change, says the qualifications for serving would remain the same. But leaders of the House and Senate get to have their say.

“I think the difference is maybe not necessarily the type of person they would pick, but a person who would be responsive to the legislature.”

The textbook commission overhaul also reduces a bond requirement for publishers, which would allow much smaller companies to offer up textbooks for use. And the proposal requires that the materials be made available for the public to review online instead of on site at university libraries, as is the case now.

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