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

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

It’s over. The State Board of Education just approved new social studies textbooks and they’re headed to classrooms. So where do we stand?

Perhaps the biggest headline of this whole saga: the important changes made to the books thanks to TFN’s work with scholars and activists like you:

REMOVED: climate-change denial REMOVED: biased depiction of affirmative action CORRECTED: slavery identified as primary cause of Civil War REJECTED: inflammatory content stereotyping Muslims

We knew these battles were coming four years ago when the state board adopted politicized standards, so we invested heavily to prepare. We’re already investing for future battles — and we need your support. If you think this work at the SBOE is valuable, then I invite you to say ‘thank you’ with a donation to TFN.

We got important corrections in the textbooks, but I don’t want to imply that the new books are perfect. Many include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. The board and publishers rebuffed repeated efforts to correct those inaccuracies.

And once again the state’s process for approving… Read More

9:13 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) is set today to vote on which proposed new social studies textbooks to adopt for Texas public schools. Publishers have been submitting changes to their textbooks since the public hearing on Tuesday. The last batch of changes — listed on more than 800 pages from publisher WorldView Software — was posted on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website mid-afternoon on Thursday. Who has reviewed these and other revisions from publishers? The truth is that there is no official process for doing so. It’s hard to believe that SBOE members had time to do it. They were in meetings Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, for example, they debated important issues such as whether teachers should be thrown in jail if they use instructional materials tied to Common Core standards. (Seriously.) So SBOE members today are being asked to vote on textbooks that they, TEA staff and most Texans haven’t had time to read and scholars haven’t had an opportunity to vet. But millions of public school students will use these textbooks over the next decade. The SBOE meeting agenda includes a variety of preliminary agenda items before board members take up the textbook issue.… Read More

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