As the State Board of Education prepares this week to vote on which new social studies textbooks to approve for Texas public schools, we are encouraged that publishers are making a number of changes to problematic passages in their texts. In each of these instances, publishers are responding to serious concerns by scholars working with the Texas Freedom Network and coalition partners.
Reviewers at the National Center for Science Education identified textbook passages from four publishers that would mislead students about the real and growing threat of global climate change. The passages included inaccurate information on climate science and promoted climate change denialism. Three of the publishers, including major publisher Pearson Education have submitted revisions correcting those problems. The fourth publisher, McGraw-Hill, has indicated that it will revise a particularly problematic passage in its Grade 6 World Culture and Geography textbook, but we are waiting for details. Taken together, these changes would represent a major victory for science education over the political arguments of climate change denialists.
Prominent Texas Republican Targets Critics with Lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 20, 2011
A libel and defamation lawsuit filed against two former Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) candidates and an Internet writer appears to be an attempt by a prominent Texas Republican to chill free speech about his questionable past associations, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
David Barton filed a lawsuit on September 1 alleging that two Democrats who lost SBOE races in 2010 had falsely painted him as a sympathizer with white supremacists. Barton is a prominent public speaker and is closely associated with national GOP leaders and former Fox News commentator Glenn Beck. He is also head of WallBuilders, a far-right advocacy group that argues against separation of church and state, and former vice chair of the Texas GOP.
“It’s puzzling that Mr. Barton has chosen now to sue two former candidates for simply discussing something that has been in the public record for nearly two decades – his past associations with groups reportedly tied to white supremacist and anti-Semitic movements,” Miller said. “Instead of suing people for essentially repeating what has already been reported, perhaps he should acknowledge his poor judgment in… Read More
Two Days after Rejecting Fact-Check Panels for University Academics, Board Votes Down Proposal to Set Standards for Citizen Reviewers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 20, 2015
State Board of Education today rejected a new proposal to set specific criteria for determining whether individuals are qualified to review textbooks submitted for adoption in Texas. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller criticized the 8-6 vote against the proposal as yet another example of the board’s hostility to expertise and competence.
“This board seems determined that textbook adoptions in Texas remain a three-ring circus,” Miller said. “It’s clear that board members are more interested in protecting their ability to appoint unqualified political activists to these panels than in ensuring that our kids’ textbooks are accurate.”
Just two days ago, the board on an 8-7 vote rejected a proposal to set up special panels made up of college and university academics to review textbooks for factual accuracy. Board members argued that existing panels of citizen reviewers were sufficient.
Today SBOE member Erika Beltran, D-Dallas, proposed that the board require that at least a majority of those citizen reviewers have education certification and teaching experience in three of the… Read More
Texas SBOE Refuses to Tighten Process for Ensuring Accuracy in Textbooks
Board Votes 8-7 to Reject Establishing Scholar Panels for Reviewing Proposed Textbooks for Factual Errors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 18, 2015
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller had the following statement today following a vote by the State Board of Education against a proposal for setting up panels of college and university scholars whose sole responsibility would be to review proposed new textbooks for factual errors.
“With all the controversies that have made textbook adoptions in Texas look like a clown show, it’s mindboggling and downright embarrassing that the board voted this down. Instead of appointing qualified historians, scientists and mathematicians to review proposed textbooks for accuracy, board members are leaving it up to schoolchildren to do the fact checking.”
Miller noted that the SBOE’s current review process is designed to check only whether textbooks conform to state curriculum standards. Review panels report factual errors they might find, but they do not perform a systematic, cover-to-cover review of the textbooks for factual accuracy.
This fall the state was embarrassed when a Houston student found that a geography textbook adopted by the state board in 2014 describes… Read More
DEFEAT OF HOUSTON EQUALITY ORDINANCE DAMAGES TEXAS
Governor, Lt. Governor Shamefully Pandered to Intolerance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 4, 2015
The deceitful, fear-based campaign used to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance at the polls on Tuesday will seriously damage the reputation of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
Miller said that danger is particularly high because of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waded into the election over the local ordinance.
“It was disturbing to see our state’s two highest elected leaders shamefully peddling lies and scare tactics,” Miller said. “Their political pandering has branded Texas as hostile to basic human rights and inclusiveness. In lending the prestige of their offices to such a shockingly deceitful campaign, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick aligned themselves with some of this state’s most extreme and intolerant voices. That can only hurt the state’s reputation among anyone or any business that might want to move here.”
The rhetoric used by HERO opponents was nothing short of incendiary. At one campaign event, a major funder of the anti-HERO campaign… Read More