The Texas State Board of Education decides what every student in Texas public schools will learn from kindergarten through high school. The board does so by adopting curriculum standards and textbooks for public schools in the state.

For decades, politicians on the State Board of Education and their activist allies have taken advantage of this flawed system to dismiss the advice of experts and scholars. They have instead worked to inject their personal views into textbooks on everything from evolution and climate change to the history of slavery, civil rights and separation of church and state.

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The Latest on Textbook Censorship

The right’s contempt for facts is especially evident when it comes to issues like climate change and evolution. Here’s some of the science denialism we heard from the right on in 2015. (Click here for previous posts on what we heard from the right in 2015.)

“I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”

– Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, responding to questions about his thoughts on evolution during his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

“No, it hasn’t changed my mind. We all have the same evidence, and it’s just a matter of how you interpret it. There’s no dates stamped on these things.”

– Canadian Edgar Nernberg, who serves on the board of a creationist museum that promotes the idea that Earth is only about 6,000 years old, explaining his personal discovery of 60-million-year-old fish fossil.

“Humans, horses, and other animals do not use similar facial muscles and communicative expressions because of shared ancestry, but they do share a common Designer and so we would expect to see similarities in living things — and… Read More

Last June, just before Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as the new chair of the State Board of Education, outgoing chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, tried to get the SBOE more authority. Today the Texas Attorney General’s Office slapped down that power grab.

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office released a formal opinion saying that the SBOE does not have authority under Texas law to set rules for how local school districts adopt textbooks. Cargill and her allies on and off the board had hoped the AG would say otherwise. They’re upset that local school districts can adopt textbooks that the state board doesn’t approve. So they wanted to make it harder for school districts to do so by putting in place a variety of rules to follow.

Paxton’s opinion explains that the Legislature has not given the state board authority to set such rules. The opinion is available here.

We just sent out the following statement.

“We’re certainly pleased to see the attorney general agree that this attempted power grab by certain board members wasn’t supported by state law. It’s important to remember that the board just last month stubbornly refused to establish even… Read More

Fact-Checking Barbara Cargill

Barbara Cargill, the creationist former chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), sent supporters an email today announcing her 2016 bid for re-election to the 15-member body. The Republican from The Woodlands near Houston has been one of the leading right-wing culture warriors on the board, helping to politicize the state’s curriculum standards and trying to censor textbook content that doesn’t pass her ideological litmus test. So we thought it would be good to fact-check Cargill’s email announcement. Following are some of what Cargill calls highlights of her 11 years on the SBOE:

“Served on the Governor-appointed Commission for College Ready Texas to improve students’ college readiness”

Well, she might have served on the commission, but she has actually helped undermine college readiness for Texas students. She played a leading role in the disastrous and deeply divisive political battle over new social studies curriculum standards the state board approved in 2010. Cargill and her colleagues were so focused on making sure that the standards reflected their personal and political biases that they paid scant attention to whether the standards aligned with the state’s college readiness standards. In fact, even her creationist ally and predecessor as board chair, Gail Lowe, has admitted as much.… Read More

Some of you might have seen over the weekend a Facebook post — now gone viral — from a Houston mom who was shocked to see the Atlantic slave trade portrayed as a “migration” of “workers” from Africa in a new high school geography textbook. That textbook is one of scores of social studies textbooks adopted by the Texas State Board of Education last fall. The textbooks went into classrooms at the beginning of the current school year.

Over the weekend publisher McGraw-Hill acknowledged that the textbook passage about the African slave trade passage was misleading and said it would immediately move to correct it. Various news outlets have been reporting about this newest controversy involving Texas textbooks — another black eye for Texas.

We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller responded today to reports about how a new high school geography textbook mischaracterizes the slave trade as simply a migration of workers in American history:

“First of all, we are encouraged that the publisher is correcting this passage downplaying the history of slavery in the United States. But it’s no accident that this happened in Texas. We have a… Read More

With all of the damage culture warriors on the State Board of Education have done — or tried to do — to the education of Texas public school students in their science and history classrooms, it can be easy to forget what they’ve also done on sex education. Today the online news magazine Slate posted the above video, which examines how two high school health textbooks from the same publisher address sex education — one submitted for adoption in Texas in 2004 and the other a decade earlier. That abstinence-only textbook from 2004, which doesn’t include a shred of information on contraception, remains in classrooms today.

Slate focused this video on the health textbooks from just one publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. But publisher Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s health textbooks were also abstinence-only. Holt and Glencoe essentially split the Texas health textbook market between them in 2004-05.

The State Board of Education hasn’t set an adoption date for the next generation of health textbooks for Texas public schools. We’re likely about five years away, at least. Meanwhile, Texas has the  one of the highest teen birth rates among the nation’s 50 states — the fifth highest, in fact, as of 2013. And the Texas Legislature still refuses to encourage school districts… Read More

Tx Freedom Network

The House State Affairs hearing today has been moved to room E2.028. #txlege

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