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)

After more than a year of work and often bitter debate, the State Board of Education is set this week to decide what the next generation of Texas students will learn in their public school science classrooms. Media outlets across the country (including the New York Times here and here, the Wall Street Journal today and even FOX News) have focused attention on the important battle over what the state's new science curriculum standards should require schools to teach about evolution. Beginning with the public hearing at noon on Wednesday, we will be live-blogging the debate for three days. So you will be able to keep up with the action here. A preliminary vote is scheduled for Thursday, with a final vote coming Friday. (We also encourage you to subscribe to TFN News Clips, a daily e-mail digest of news articles about the religious right and TFN issues.)…… Read More

It was stunning, of course, to see that Texas State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, endorsed a truly kooky and insulting book that attacks the faith of people who accept the science of evolution and calls parents “monsters” and pastors “morons” if they want to teach kids about that key scientific concept. But here’s something we missed about the book’s author, Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. Two excerpts from a Christian Newswire press release dated September 22 of last year:

In a series of essays published at www.solvinglight.com/blog/, author Robert Bowie Johnson Jr. presents evidence that Barack Obama is directly linked to Satanic teachings through his close association with Oprah Winfrey, who parrots and relentlessly promotes, worldwide, the anti-Christian doctrine of her guru, Eckhart Tolle.

“The voting public has a right to know to what degree Barack Obama, who has called himself a ‘committed Christian,’ considers himself and his wife to be integral parts of Oprah’s and Tolle’s New Age global tribe, a tribe that has adopted the “wisdom” of the ancient serpent as its own,” Mr. Johnson said.

You can read the full release here. We… Read More

As we get closer to the final vote at the Texas State Board of Education on science standards next week, creationists on the board are showing their real stripes. First it was board chairman Don McLeroy, who endorsed a book equating acceptance of evolution with atheism -- making clear that his primary beef with evolution is based on religious beliefs (despite repeated claims to the contrary). And now Terri Leo, R-Spring, gets in on the act. Ms. Leo recently appeared on a Walbuilders Radio program to discuss the latest on the evolution debate at the state board. For the uninitiated, Wallbuiders is a Christian advocacy organization based in Aledo, Texas, that claims the separation of church and state is a myth. (Read TFN's extensive profile of Wallbuilders' founder David Barton.) The first cat Leo let's out of the bag is the "end game" for creationists on the board: biology textbooks. What the next generation of textbooks teach about evolution is the subtext for the entire debate on curriculum standards. Leo and her allies lacked the votes in 2003 to force publishers to include phony "weaknesses" of evolution, but now the elusive majority is in sight. Leo is blunt:…… Read More

Scientists are "atheists." Parents who want to teach their children about evolution are "monsters." Pastors who support sound science are "morons." Is that the sort of message Chairman Don McLeroy and his cohorts on the State Board of Education have in mind for Texas science classrooms if they succeed in their campaign to shoehorn “weaknesses” of evolution back into the science curriculum standards? That's certainly the message of a new book McLeroy is now endorsing. Dr. McLeroy – noting his position as board chair – recently wrote a glowing recommendation of Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. (The new book is self-published.) The chairman clearly likes what he reads: In critiquing the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) missionary evolution tract—Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, he identifies their theft of true science by their intentional neglect of other valid scientific possibilities. Then, using NAS’s own statements, he demonstrates that the great “process” of evolution—natural selection—is nothing more than a figure of speech. These chapters alone are worth the reading of this book. Curious to know what Johnson envisions - and McLeroy…… Read More

UPDATE: Don't just stew in frustration. Do something about it. - As we have battled anti-evolution extremists on the Texas State Board of Education over the past year, we knew that a legislative assault on science was inevitable. On Friday, the last day for filing legislation at the Texas Capitol, a far-right lawmaker from East Texas filed the bill we've been expecting. House Bill 4224 by state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, is a full frontal assault on science education in Texas. The bill would open the door to teaching public school students almost any cockamamie concept that any crackpot wants to portray as "science," regardless of what mainstream scientists and school administrators have to say about it. Read More