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

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

How far will religious-righters go to use faith as a weapon to harm others? Pretty far — including demanding government help to do it.

Answers in Genesis, a militantly anti-evolution ministry, is suing the state of Kentucky for the right of its proposed creation theme park to discriminate on the basis of religion even while getting $18 million in tax incentives.

Kentucky tourism officials told Answers in Genesis in December that the proposed Ark Encounter creationist theme park won’t be eligible for the tax incentives unless the organization pledges not to discriminate in hiring based on religion. That’s a requirement any non-religious business must meet. But Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham is claiming that Kentucky officials are hostile to religion:

“(T)he state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court. This is the latest example of increasing government hostility towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant.”

Ham — who has attacked the Texas Freedom Network for defending the teaching of evolution — is talking nonsense. The state is simply treating his proposed theme park as it would any… Read More

Members of the Texas State Board of Education aren’t the only politicians pushing the national campaign to turn public schools into tools for indoctrinating students with right-wing ideology. A columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel looks at how that campaign is unfolding in other states.

In Florida, for example, lawmakers are pushing a bill that would require high school students to watch a film about America written by and starring conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is the author of numerous diatribes — in columns, books and film — that essentially describe President Obama as a Marxist out to destroy America.

Even fellow conservatives have labeled these claims by D’Souza as ridiculous. But now some Florida lawmakers want to force students in their state to watch a film from the same incendiary propagandist. (D’Souza, by the way, is also a law-breaker. He was fined and sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center last September after admitting that he deliberately violated U.S. campaign finance law.)

The Sun-Sentinel columnist, Rhonda Swan, explains how those Florida lawmakers are tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That right-wing group has in other states been pushing similar legislation that would require students to learn a sanitized and distorted version of American history. Here’s how… Read More

“False ideas are the greatest obstacle to progress. Evolution, the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor, is a false idea.”

— Don McLeroy (@DonMcLeroy) November 26, 2014

“False ideas are the greatest obstacle to progress. Evolution, the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor, is a false idea.”

That’s a tweet today from the creationist former chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, Don McLeroy. McLeroy helped lead the right’s campaign from 2008 to 2010 to dumb down teaching on both evolution and climate change in new public school textbooks. He and his fellow anti-science fanatics failed completely. Thanks to the hard and costly work of the Texas Freedom Network, fantastic coalition partners like the National Center for Science Education and Climate Parents, and tens of thousands of supporters, new science and social studies textbooks in Texas teach the truth about both evolution and climate change without the “false ideas” that McLeroy wanted in them.

That’s something we can all be thankful for. As 2014 draws to a close, please consider helping TFN replenish our resources for the battles ahead both at the State Board of Education and, especially in 2015, the… Read More

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It is almost like you're embarrassed re: your past statements. But what do we know. twitter.com/TFN/stat…

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