Censorship » Conservative Christian Groups
The Right Hand of Censorship
One conservative Christian group in Texas that is tremendously influential in the secular textbook industry is Educational Research Analysts, founded in 1961 by concerned Christian parents, Mel and Norma Gabler.1
Diane Ravitch, well-known educator and author of The Language Police, a renowned expose of textbook censorship, describes the extent of the Gablers’ influence: “Since the 1960s, any publisher that expected to win adoption of their textbooks in Texas had to anticipate that the Gablers would review the contents and values in their books and teachers’ guides on a line-by-line basis. Knowing this, publishers engaged in self-censorship to head off possible confrontations with such conservative critics.”2
Although the Gablers are now deceased, their organization, under the direction of their protégé Neal Frey, still wields enormous influence. For example, “in 2004, both publishers and the Texas board of education agreed to a proposal, at Frey’s urging, that clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman in health textbooks.”3
The organization’s original method for exerting conservative influence was to use their state’s public textbook adoption hearings to vocalize their objections to the textbooks being considered for use in Texas. These hearings offer private citizens the opportunity to raise objections about textbooks, to which the publishers must publicly respond. Trying to avoid controversy in order to sell books, the publishers would often comply with the conservative demands. Ironically, Educational Research Analysts no longer testify at these adoption hearings.
However, many liberal special interest groups continue to wield control over the content of secular textbooks.
1 See their website at www.textbookreviews.org.
2 Diane Ravitch, The Language Police (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), p. 105.
3 Sean Cavanagh, “Chapter & Verse,” Teacher Magazine (January/February 2006), p. 29.