Oh they are updated every year…just updated to make sure more white people are in them. It’s actually quite disgusting how textbooks are chosen, and it all comes down to Texas.
The Texas school board controls the k-12 textbook industry. Whatever they pick is what is going to be sent/required for majority of the public schools in america. They pay 100% of the textbook costs because, as you can imagine, wanted very tainted information in those books…they literally pay to have textbooks written to leave out information, and because those books are paid for, the publisher just mass produces them and…well those are the books that are available for the masses.
The Texas State Board of Education, which approves textbooks, curriculum standards, and supplemental materials for the public schools, has fifteen members from fifteen districts whose boundaries don’t conform to congressional districts, or really anything whatsoever. They run in staggered elections that are frequently held in off years, when always-low Texas turnout is particularly abysmal. The advantage tends to go to candidates with passionate, if narrow, bands of supporters, particularly if those bands have rich backers. All of which—plus a natural supply of political eccentrics—helps explain how Texas once had a board member who believed that public schools are the tool of the devil.
Texas originally acquired its power over the nation’s textbook supply because it paid 100 percent of the cost of all public school textbooks, as long as the books in question came from a very short list of board-approved options. The selection process “was grueling and tension-filled,” said Julie McGee, who worked at high levels in several publishing houses before her retirement. “If you didn’t get listed by the state, you got nothing.” On the other side of the coin, David Anderson, who once sold textbooks in the state, said that if a book made the list, even a fairly mediocre salesperson could count on doing pretty well. The books on the Texas list were likely to be mass-produced by the publisher in anticipation of those sales, so other states liked to buy them and take advantage of the economies of scale.
As a market, the state was so big and influential that national publishers tended to gear their books toward whatever it wanted. Back in 1994, the board requested four hundred revisions in five health textbooks it was considering. The publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston was the target for the most changes, including the deletion of toll-free numbers for gay and lesbian groups and teenage suicide prevention groups. Holt announced that it would pull its book out of the Texas market rather than comply. (A decade later Holt was back with a new book that eliminated the gay people.)
Given the high cost of developing a single book, the risk of messing with Texas was high. “One of the most expensive is science,” McGee said. “You have to hire medical illustrators to do all the art.” When she was in the business, the cost of producing a new biology book could run to $5 million. “The investments are really great and it’s all on risk.”
Imagine the feelings of the textbook companies—not to mention the science teachers—when, in response to a big push from the Gablers, the state board adopted a rule in 1974 that textbooks mentioning the theory of evolution “should identify it as only one of several explanations of the origins of humankind” and that those treating the subject extensively “shall be edited, if necessary, to clarify that the treatment is theoretical rather than factually verifiable.” The state attorney general eventually issued an opinion that the board’s directive wouldn’t stand up in court, and the rule was repealed. But the beat went on.