Foster to Present at Texas Research Day

February 26, 2019

Research Project Focuses on Inconsistencies in School Textbooks

Student stands at professor's desk to discuss research
Holli Foster, left, talks through her research paper with her faculty sponsor Dr. Deidre Redmond. Foster will present her research in Austin as part of Texas Undergraduate Research Day.

Holli Foster has committed herself to education during her time at Wayland Baptist University, focusing on academics with a double major in sociology and justice administration. A student in the Honors Program, Foster has been encouraged and pushed to take her education to the next level. On April 1, she will get her chance to show the results of her focus as she presents her research at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the State Capitol in Austin.

(Watch Holli talk about her research here.)

A senior from Keller, Foster has taken on historical inaccuracies in public school textbooks as her research topic. In particular, she is looking at the effects of Brown Versus the Board of Education and how the court decision influenced integration in public schools … or perhaps more interestingly, how it didn’t influence integration.

As Foster looked at textbook inconsistencies in lower-income schools, she discovered that the efforts of Brown V. Board in 1954 was part of the problem. Foster said there was a correlation between the court decision and what is known as red-lining, which is the use of insurance companies and housing markets to segregate populations. Foster also discovered restrictive covenants which are included in property deeds that dictate who may or may not purchase a house. She said none of these issues are actually discussed in textbooks, and they came about as a way to continue the segregation of schools.

“I read through the on-level and AP textbooks from a high school in Texas and I found that not only are red-lining and restrictive covenants not mentioned at all, but many of the descriptions about slavery and Brown V. Board have little or no information about what really happened,” Foster said. “Much of what actually happened isn’t being told to students and that is really doing a detriment to them.”

Foster said she looked at numerous textbooks and read hundreds of articles, finding that the biggest problem is a lack of social context when discussing issues.

“When talking about slavery in the book, it’s just that they were in the field working all day,” Foster said. “It doesn’t really take into account all the verbal harassment, all the other drama that went along with it. We are (giving students) this kind of washed down idea of what really happened.”

Foster hopes her presentation at the State Capitol will draw the attention of educators. She will have a poster presentation of her research and will be available to talk about it to anyone interested.

“Hopefully, I will catch someone’s attention about these textbooks,” Foster said. “Knowledge is power, and if you can equip people with that, they can be the movers and shakers and you can have a really big impact.”