Protest Hearings on Textbooks before Texas Education Agency, Austin, Texas, August 19-20, 1976
Because many members are not familiar with our project, let me give just a little background.
For several years, the NOW Continuing Task Force on Education for Women has consisted of feminists throughout Texas who are interested in eliminating sexism in textbooks utilized by our
public schoolSo Each spring, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announces the categories of
textbooks to be adopted that year. Publishers submit candidate textbooks, and copies are
sent to each school district. At this time our Task Force coordinators (this year they were
Marjorie Randal, Kay Whyburn, and Twiss Butler) send information packets to NOW chapters and
to any other person interested in participating in the scree ning of these books for sexism.
These written reviews (bills of particulars) are returned to the coordinators and forwarded
to TEA who in turn sends them on to the publishers0 This year over 100 women and men submitted 229 individual bi11s0 The publishers1 responses to the bills are made to TEA and forwarded to the coordinators,,
TEA sets the date for the Textbook Selection Committee to hear oral testimony of citizens of
the state who have written criticisms, and at this time the publishers have a chance to rebut
the testimony, to make concess ions, or to request that the books be considered without changes0*
Our Task Force was allotted a block of time (about 8 hours of actual testimony) and this was
parceled out by the coordinators to the testifiers according to the seriousness of the sexism in the book on which they were testifying, or to the lack of response on the part of a
publsiher* We had thought to b8 scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but found we were to
start mid-morning0 Many of our testifiers were not arriving until Friday, causing us to
filibuster somewhat to allow us to carry over to the next day.
TEA had their official timekeeper and we had Rema Lou BrownG..sitting by us as we testified,
signaling to us to speed up or to "stretch it out." It was very comforting to some of us to
have a sister close by when it came our turn to "face the lions."
Barbara Duke of Austin introduced our Mary Buxton, the first expert witnessG Mary is presently employed as Research Analyst by the American Society for Medical Technology. NOW's
other expert witnesses were Judy Corder-Bolz, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of
Texas, and Cliff Whyburn, Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of HoustonQ
There were 28 testifiers including Mary Buxton, Marjorie Randal, Twiss Butler, Mary Fae McKay,
Rema Lou Brown, Frances Hicks, Dorothy Pearson, and Rebecca Saletan of Bay Area NOW. A
standing rule of the committee had been that any person who had submitted a signed bill was
eligible to testify on any bill submitted by the Task Force0 This year, TEA changed the
rules, after we had submitted our schedules and had started to testify, declaring that a
person could testify only in the category on which they had reportedo Some of our women
arrived in Austin only to find that they had been declared ineligible (Je*n Saletan of
Bay Area was among them).
TEA also harassed our coordinators by trying to change our schedules (requiring us to testify
on all books of one publisher at a time—rather than on all books of one category)• In spite
of the harassments, we did receive glimmerings of hope that some of the committee members
might be sympathetic to our causec In a few weeks we will know just how much influence we
might have had, when the committee's select ions are announced.
Cheers to Marjorie Randal, Kay Whyburn, and Twiss Butler for a splendid job of coordinating
our efforts and maintaining timely presentations under the pressures at Austin! Thanks, also,
to Rema Lou Brown J See you all in Austin next year!!!!
*A publisher will offer a candidate book to TEA for a certain price. Any changes requested
by TEA will be added to the price! This being the case, not too many changes are made0 Our
only hope is that the most sexist books will be eliminated from cons?derationG Last year's
work was reflected in the books presented this year...and this year's efforts will hopefully
result in the presentation of some really good textbooks next springQ Dorothy Pearson