Textbook Censorship

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 tod 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.

Resources

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars (2008 report)

Evolution, Creationism & Public Schools: Surveying Texas Scientists (2008 report)

Culture Wars and the Classroom (2010 report)

Senate Bill 6: Changes in the Textbook Adoption Process (2011 report)

Texas Science Curriculum Standards: Challenges (2012 report)

Science Textbook Review (2013 report)

Social Studies Textbook Review (2014 report)

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

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has a regrettable — but reliable — history of mixing the culture wars with public education. And, it seems, almost every election cycle — eight of the 15 SBOE seats are up for election this year — at least one candidate promises to make things even worse. This year is not different.

Meet Mary Lou Bruner. If you keep an eye on the SBOE like we do here at TFN, you might have seen her at a hearing here or two railing against Muslims. Bruner is running for the SBOE District 9 seat as a Republican to replace fellow Republican Thomas Ratliff, a moderate who has tried to put an end to the circus atmosphere at the board and is not running for re-election.

Bruner, a former teacher, is not shy about sharing her views on social media. And while one of Bruner’s opponents, Hank Hering, has a concerning statement on his website that appears to dismiss the constitutional separation between church and state (“Restore principles and policies originally established by strong Judeo-Christian beliefs put in place by our Founders”), his public statements do not approach Bruner’s level of outrageousness.

From… 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