In what is expected to have an impact on school books nationwide, the influential California State Board of Education has told major publishers that it wants more religion in textbooks.
The board advised publishers at a meeting this week that history and social science texts approved by the state should reflect the impact of religion upon society, said Francie Alexander, associate superintendent for curriculum.
The meeting came three days after the state adopted a 263-page document, "History/Social Science Framework," that called for fuller treatment of religion in textbooks used by its elementary and secondary schools.
"We stressed to the publishers the importance of not ducking important and controversial topics such as the role of religion and its impact on historical events," Alexander said in a telephone interview.
As examples, the board asked that textbooks address the contributions of religion to the development of the U.S. Constitution and compare religions in different societies, she added.
Alexander said 60 representatives of most of the major textbook publishers were at the meeting and that none posed objections to the requests for better coverage of religion.
The state is confident that the publishers will make the proper changes, the education official said. California's textbook purchases, accounting for 12 percent of those sold in the United States, affect the entire publishing industry.
"Clearly, it will have an impact on textbooks across the country," Ron Brandt, spokesman for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, said of the California decision on treatment of religion. The association represents 80,000 teachers and administrators nationwide.