CONTACT: For press inquiries, to set up interviews or to sign up for e-mail press releases, please e-mail TFN Communications Director Dan Quinn or call 512-322-0545.

TEA Commissioner Shirley Neeley Flip-Flops On Vouchers FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 29, 2004

AUSTIN, TX – New Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley made a 180-degree turn in her position on private school vouchers within weeks of her appointment by Governor Rick Perry.

“It was a surprise and disappointment this week when Neeley expressed support for the dangerous voucher scheme proposed by Governor Perry and special interests,” said Heather Alden, spokesperson for the Texas Freedom Network. “She has been a staunch opponent of the use of public money to pay tuition at private and religious schools.”

Alden said Neeley’s flip-flop on vouchers supports what had been reported by other candidates for the commissioner position: that Governor Perry would require his appointee as Education Commissioner to publicly support his controversial proposal for private school vouchers whether or not the individual thought it was good public policy.… Read More

Mainstream Texans Gather In Dallas To Proclaim Faith And Science Not In Conflict FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 3, 2003

Dallas, Texas In the midst of growing tension over the teaching of evolution, a group of mainstream Texans gathered in Dallas today to proclaim that faith and science are not in conflict.

Faith leaders, scientists, elected officials and other concerned Texans met to discuss the relationship between religion and science and the impact politics has on that relationship.

“One of the hallmarks of fundamentalist religious movements is an extreme distrust of modern culture, including science,” said Samantha Smoot, President of the Texas Freedom Network. “In their resistance to modern culture, some communities today insist on pitting science against religion in an effort to politicize both.”

“Some radical voices still wish to drive a wedge between religion and science for theological and political reasons,” added Ryan Valentine, Coordinator of the Texas Faith Network. “Outside of fundamentalist circles, however, ‘religion and science’ has replaced ‘religion versus science.’ In our science departments and congregations, the dialogue between theology and science is very much alive, challenging and enlightening both.”… Read More

Publishers Resist Political Pressure To Alter Biology Textbooks FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 29, 2003

Austin, Texas In this year’s battle over the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms, publishers of Biology textbooks withstood a political push aimed at forcing them to rewrite the books. Now the controversy moves back to the State Board of Education, which will vote to approve or reject textbooks on November 6 and 7.

Yesterday the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the changes to Biology textbooks proposed by publishers in response to public testimony on the books.

Several organizations, led by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based group dedicated to promoting “intelligent design,” have undertaken a well-funded campaign to pressure publishers to make the books more critical of the theory of evolution. Records released yesterday by TEA indicate the publishers resisted this push.

“In keeping with their commitment to provide students with the best possible science education, Biology textbook publishers have stood up to political pressure,” said Samantha Smoot, President of the Texas Freedom Network. “We applaud publishers for doing what’s right for Texas kids, despite the demands of far-right interest groups.”… Read More

Business Leaders, Clergy, Scientists Say No To Censorship FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 20, 2003

Austin, Texas With one day left to sign up to testify on proposed Biology textbooks, a group of citizens launched a campaign they say protects the best interests of science, religion and business.

The proposed textbooks have drawn fire nationally from an organized group that wants their creationist perspective included in the books. But today, a group of citizens announced the launch of Stand Up for Science, a grassroots campaign encouraging people to speak out against the push to undermine the study of evolution.

Over 50 Texans gathered at the William B. Travis Building, home of the Texas Education Agency, to show support for keeping good science in Biology textbooks.

“Our economy is increasingly driven by science and technology, and to undermine the study of science threatens our children’s ability to compete for jobs and our state’s ability to compete for business,” said David Vom Lehn, a network systems engineer and former technical recruiter.… Read More

Committee Substituted Voucher Bill Sneaks Through Committee At Closed Meeting On House Floor FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 14, 2003

Austin, TX Chairman Kent Grusendorf called an impromptu meeting of the House Public Education Committee at his desk on the House floor this morning and hurriedly passed out a modified Senate Bill that includes a provision for a pilot Private School Voucher Program.

The original version of S.B. 976 establishes a Middle College Education Pilot Program for students at-risk of dropping out, but a committee substitute, offered by Chairman Grusendorf, was rewritten and hastily presented at the last minute to committee members.

“This is just another desperate move to push an unpopular idea that would harm Texas’ public schools,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates against vouchers.

This is the second time a voucher bill has passed through Chairman Grusendorf’s committee at a meeting held at his desk. On April 3, Grusendorf called an unplanned meeting and passed out his controversial voucher bill, H.B. 2465.… Read More

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