… and by it, he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4)
|"Pay attention, now," Mel Gabler would tell us, his understudies. "You will have to do this
when I'm gone." So we gave heed, until we could predict 99% of the time what he would say or do on anything
textbook-related; until we could work on our own for months at various tasks, knowing we did them his way, which had
become our way.||
Mel left in place written standard
review criteria, which are checklists of what textbooks have censored before, and shopping lists telling
publishers what to include next time. They are cumulative
insights by many people from numerous reviews on multiple prior adoptions nationwide.
|We will miss Mel's valued advice, as he was mentally sharp to the end. But we will not miss
a beat reviewing textbooks, relating to publishers, helping State Board of Education members, dealing with state
education bureaucracies, and advising parents and teachers, for Mel's living legacy is still the
gold standard of public school textbook reform.
Mel left in place the rule that however many 2+2=5-type factual errors we find in textbooks,
they are but means to our chief end of critiquing textbooks' substantive subject-matter
content as Christian conservatives, whose thoroughness and knowledgeability our error lists just confirm.
Texas is the
most conservative big state that state-approves textbooks.
Texas has national leverage on publishers. Texas'
all-elected State Board of Education responds more to citizens.
To impact Texas, Mel left in place a long institutional past, unusually experienced reviewers, and highly specific goals.
People often ask if other groups in other states do what we do in Texas. Some fine
conservatives participate on occasion in textbook adoptions elsewhere. To our knowledge, however, Mel left in
place the only operation anywhere tied each year
to a large state textbook approval process.
Mel left in place extensive textbook review files, State Board of Education
archives, Texas Education Agency records, and lessons from past victories and defeats, dating back to the early
1960s. That preserved wisdom of close to half a century is a priceless asset for Christian conservative activists.
||"For who hath despised the day of small things?" This work has always been too exceptional to exist,
except God were in it; too unlikely to succeed, save that Jesus Christ helped it; too fragile to endure, unless the
Lord willed it. Yet Mel went to heaven in peace that his legacy would prosper, with the succession nearly complete
before he died.|
Different people reviewing different textbooks
different years tend to draw less precise comparisons and reinvent the wheel. Mel left in place a
very stable review staff, active each year for decades, to write consistent, increasingly
in-depth reviews over repeated Texas textbook adoption cycles.
||For 22 years as senior textbook analyst I have written almost all of Educational Research Analysts' textbook
reviews, and since 1999 all our newsletters, plus many other projects. Norma still takes an interest in state
textbook adoption issues as well. Through God's grace and your prayers, together we will extend Mel's legacy for
| || || — Neal Frey, Senior textbook analyst|