DALLAS — When it comes to deciding which books should be banned in Texas public schools for being controversial or offensive, most Texans think their politicians should stay out of it.

What You Need To Know

  • A new poll shows that most Texans think politicians should stay out of deciding what books should or shouldn’t be on school library shelves

  • Nearly two-thirds of Texans surveyed said they had “no confidence” that Texas elected officials could be trusted to decide which books should stay or go

  • The survey was conducted for the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler

That’s according to a new poll conducted for the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler in which voters were asked how much they trust “the judgment of elected state leaders in reviewing what books were controversial and should be removed” from public kindergarten to high schools.

Two-thirds of Texans said they had “no confidence” or “not too much” trust in their elected politicians making such decisions about what should be on public school bookshelves. The responses were consistent across party lines, with Democrats and Republicans, 31% and 33% respectively, reporting “no confidence in their elected leaders decision on this issue. Among independent voters, 42% said they had no confidence. 

Just 9% of those polled said they had a “great deal” of trust in letting Texas politicians decide how and if a book should be removed from the shelves. Interestingly, of those who had a “great deal” of trust in elected officials on this matter, 14% were Democrats, slightly higher than Republicans at 8%, which was below the overall percentage of those polled.

The survey looked at several questions on Texas voters’ views on politics and education, among other topics. The survey polled 1,106 registered voters between Nov. 9 and 16. Results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The poll comes amid a flurry of culture war issues seen raging across the country and here in Texas. Issues such as diversity training, the teaching of history in the classroom and transgender youth in school sports were all taken up by the Republican-led Texas Legislature this year.

Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month asked Texas education officials to investigate whether pornographic materials were available in public schools and to notify law enforcement if any such material could be accessed by children. The directive was vague in that the governor did not offer a definition of what he considered to be pornography.

As a result of Abbott’s directive, the Texas Education Agency, the State Board of Education and the state commission on library and archives have agreed to develop standards to prevent the presence of “pornography and other obscene content” in schools.

Abbott’s directive came on the heels of State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, launching a House investigation into books on the shelves at public school libraries. Krause sent several district officials across the state a list of more than 800 books about racism, gender and sexuality he indicated were in question.

The Texas Legislature, during its regular and special sessions, devoted a significant among of time to discussing “critical race theory,” a university-level framework of examining the intersection of race and law in the United States, and the debate over whether the method was being used in Texas schools and state institutions. 

The recent Dallas Morning News poll asked voters which party they trusted more on education in Texas. Overall, Texans were nearly split, with 50% saying they trusted the Republican party and 47% favoring the Democrats. 

Stark divisions were seen among Black, Hispanic and white voters polled, however. Black and Hispanic voters reported having more trust in the Democrats when it came to education, 81% and 60% respectively. Meanwhile, 64% of white voters surveyed put their trust in the Republicans, compared to 34% favoring the Democrats on this issue.

Nearly 60% of Texan voters surveyed agreed either somewhat (23%) or strongly (36%) that “teachers should be permitted to discuss how historical examples of discrimination in our laws apply to inequalities today.” About a quarter of those surveyed disagreed either strongly (15%) or somewhat (9%) with that statement.

More results of the survey can be found at this link