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

Since the murder of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston last month and the renewed controversy over the Confederate flag that followed, we’ve seen a slew of stories about what public school textbooks teach about the Civil War. Very early on, we got a call from the Washington Post on this question. While that reporter generally did a good job explaining the nuances of the controversy in Texas, we’ve seen quite a few stories from other media outlets that haven’t quite hit the mark. So let’s set the record straight on some key questions.

In the first place, why would anyone outside the state care what Texas textbooks say about anything?

Because of the huge size of the Texas market, publishers have typically written their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards in this state and then also sold those textbooks in other states around the country. Technology, publishing methods and other factors have somewhat lessened the influence of Texas, but that influence remains strong. That’s largely a consequence of the economics of publishing.

So what’s the problem with the Texas curriculum standards?

Publishers write their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), that are adopted by the State Board… Read More

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, speaking Sunday on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, discussed how textbooks in Texas distort the history of the Civil War. Check out the interview in the short clip below.

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Former Texas State Board of Education chair Don McLeroy isn’t done distorting history.

While McLeroy was on the board in 2010, he and his colleagues gave Texas schools new social studies curriculum standards that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War. Now, as a former SBOE member, he’s rewriting the role he and other board members played in writing those pretty much universally panned standards on which history textbooks for millions of Texas schoolchildren are based.

Here was McLeroy this week, appearing alongside TFN President Kathy Miller, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” McLeroy defended the standards (as well as the ridiculous revision and approval process for those standards) and said some things that weren’t very accurate. Watch the clip in its entirety and we’ll have more below the fold.

On the causes of the Civil War, McLeroy says the board “never really discussed that very much.” He actually makes that claim twice in the “Ed Show” clip. Coincidentally, that’s how many times the board discussed (at length) the causes of the Civil War in just one day — May 20, 2010.

Thankfully, there’s video of that day. At just after the 9:30 mark of this clip, SBOE member Pat… Read More

On Thursday Donna Bahorich was appointed the new chair of the Texas State Board of Education. In this Houston Chronicle story on Bahorich’s appointment, a former chair, Don McLeroy, left the following comment:

I find it ironic that it its Mr. Ratliff, and the Texas Freedom Network(By the way, thank you for not including them in your story!) are the ones out there making contentious statements; it was always that way. The media has portrayed that it was the religious conservatives that caused ’embarrassing public fights’ when it was actually the other side. Just look again at who is ‘publicly fighting’ in your story.”

No, Dr. McLeroy, TFN and the media did not create the circus at the board. We were all just there with cameras, quoting you — the ringmaster during many of these debates — accurately.

Don McLeroy: “Someone has to stand up to experts!”

Don McLeroy on how women got the right to vote

Don McLeroy explains dinosaurs on the ark

Don McLeroy explains the United Nations

It wasn’t just McLeroy. Here’s fellow board member David Bradley vs. church-state separation

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Gov. Greg Abbott today announced the appointment of Texas State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair. Bahorich replaces Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands. We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is expressing disappointment in Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision, announced today, to appoint State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair:

“If Gov. Abbott wanted to demonstrate that he won’t continue his predecessor’s efforts to politicize and undermine our state’s public schools, this appointment falls far short. The governor has appointed as board chair an ideologue who voted to adopt new textbooks that scholars sharply criticized as distorting American history, who rejected public education for her own family and who supports shifting tax dollars from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools through vouchers. This appointment almost guarantees that the board will continue to put culture war agendas ahead of educating more than 5 million Texas kids.”

In 2013, her first year on the board, Bahorich voted against a resolution urging the Legislature to reject private school vouchers. Bahorich also homeschooled her three sons and then sent them to private and religious school. The board… Read More

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