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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Right-wing Candidate for Texas Ed Board Isn’t Happy with TFN

We told you last week about the outrageous things Texas State Board of Education candidate Mary Lou Bruner publicly claims on her Facebook page. Among them: that President Obama was a gay prostitute so that he could fund his drug addiction, that Democrats conspired to assassinate President Kennedy, that evolution “is a religious philosophy … supporting the religion of Atheism,” and that climate change is a hoax Marxists are using to take over the world.

Well, Bruner isn’t happy with TFN. From her Facebook page on Wednesday:

The Texas Freedom Network’s name is very misleading. Texas Freedom Network is controlled by radical liberals who believe Freedom of Speech and the other rights listed in the Bill of Rights are only for liberals and progressives, not for conservative Americans. TFN believes conservative Americans should allow the liberals to have their way on every issue because if liberals do not get their way they throw a fit.

I will gladly wear the TFN “Badge of Dishonor” which the radical liberal organization awarded me for my testimony before the State Board of Education condemning Islamic bias in Texas textbooks. I stand by my testimony and by my belief that… Read More

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.

Climate Change

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.

Islam

 … Read More

You already know it’s a presidential election year. It’s also an election year for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), with eight of the board’s 15 seats on ballots all across the state this November.

SBOE races don’t always get much attention, which is unfortunate because if you’ve followed us here you probably know how important — or how much of a headache — the board can be. The board has the power to decide what’s taught to more than 5 million public school students, and throughout the years some SBOE members haven’t been shy about pushing the culture wars into the classroom.

So with that in mind, if you live in SBOE districts 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14 or 15, you can vote for an SBOE member this year.

(If you don’t know which SBOE district you’re in, you can find out here.)

In districts 14 and 15, you won’t have a choice on who to vote for as both incumbents — Sue Melton-Malone, R-Waco, and Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo — are unopposed. The rest of you will have contested SBOE races on your ballots.

Below are this year’s SBOE candidates. We encourage you to… Read More

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

Equality Texas

Any bill that carries the expectation that every Texan needs a birth certificate to use the restroom is an unenforceable bill. #TXLege

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