Mel and Norma Gabler set up standard criteria for reviewing textbooks on such subjects as history, literature, science and government. For example, elementary school reading books should present "a universe that rewards virtue and punishes vice, where good and evil are not moral equivalents." Story content should also provide "diverse views on current controversial issues such as 'global warming,' feminism, or evolution," and "sensitive treatment of benefits to children of strong, stable, two-parent families."
The standards call for high school world history texts to "prevent stereotypes of whites-as-oppressors and people-of-color-as-victims." They call on teachers to note, among other things, that "some sub-Saharan African peoples (e.g., Ashanti, Dahomey)" practiced "human sacrifice" and that "only the Christian West realized slavery was wrong and took the lead in abolishing it."
The Gablers' organization, Education Research Analysts, will continue their work. This year, reviewers are considering 6th and 7th grade math books.
Her name may be unfamiliar, but Norma Gabler had a profound influence on what a generation of children read in their school textbooks. Gabler died last week at the age of 84.
For more than 40 years, Gabler and her husband, Mel, who died in 2004, worked to rid Texas schoolbooks of factual errors and what they saw as amoral, anti-Christian, pro-evolution biases. The Gablers' influence extended nationwide. Texas is the country's second-largest textbook purchaser, so books with Texas-approved content were frequently sold to school districts in other states.