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.


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)

by TFN

January’s evolution show trial put on by the Texas State Board of Education gave the anti-evolution Discovery Institute a warm fuzzy because one of its co-founders got to share the stage with real scientists. (If you missed it, check out our live blogging that started here.) Because they can’t provide a shred of real scientific evidence to support their anti-evolution babble, the Disco folks try to set up “debates” in reputable venues just for the publicity. The Texas scientists who shared the microphone at the state board hearing didn’t have much choice — state board members had appointed them to a review panel that was part of the formal process for revising public school science curriculum standards.

But given a choice, most scientists aren’t willing to participate in a “debate” with folks from the Discovery Institute. Why? Because the Disco folks haven’t bothered to do the hard work of providing scientific evidence to support their positions. Now PZ Myers tells readers that the Discovery Institute recently asked a professor at the University of Vermont, Nicholas Gotelli, for a debate about evolution and “intelligent design” on his campus. In short, Prof. Gotelli’s answer… Read More

Not everyone was in a festive mood for Evolution Weekend this year. While more than a thousand religious congregations from a wide variety of faith traditions gathered last weekend to celebrate a more positive relationship between religion and science, the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) wanted no part of it. In fact, the ICR used the occasion to broadcast their belief that any Christian who accepts evolution is inviting "swift destruction," even implying that pastors who participated in Evolution Weekend are "false teachers...who privily shall bring in damnable heresies." (Apparently they continue to speak the "King's English" over at the ICR, naturally preferring the King James Bible.) Read the latest e-mail alert from our young earth creationist friends at the ICR after the jump. Read More

In TFN News Clips (subscribe here) last week, we included a piece from the Christian Science Monitor about efforts by creationists to pass so-called “academic freedom” bills in various states. The bills provide legal support for teachers who challenge evolution with creationist arguments in their public school science classrooms. Texas has no such law (yet).

In any case, we failed to note a choice quote from Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station. The story explained that during the board’s debate on new science standards in January, McLeroy succeeded in passing a particular anti-evolution amendment to the draft document.

“That shocked a lot of people,” says the chairman, Don McLeroy, a self-identified “young earth creationist.” But Mr. McLeroy insists such efforts are well within the law. “It’s certainly not a religious standard…. People are probably opposed to [the new language] for ideological reasons.”

Well, it’s certainly true that people were shocked — shocked that a majority of state board members had somehow accepted the pseudoscientific babble the good dentist offered as arguments for the amendment. (For more on those arguments, see an earlier post here.) Interestingly, McLeroy had… Read More

If you find yourself in a church, synagogue or mosque in Texas this weekend, you might just hear Charles Darwin's name come up in the sermon (and not to label him a devil!). It's Evolution Weekend again, and TFN is proud to join The Clergy Letter Project in sponsoring events in Texas congregations. What is Evolution Weekend, you say? Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic - to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. More than 1,000 congregations around the world are participating, including more than 50 in Texas. To celebrate, TFN Insider is pleased to welcome guest blogger Rev. Jeremy Rutledge to offer his insights on religion and science. Jeremy is minister at Covenant Church, a congregation affiliated with the American Baptist Church and the Alliance of Baptists. Read Jeremy's comments after the jump. Read More

Using the Texas GOP Bible platform as a club to attack moderate Republicans is a longstanding tactic of the religious right in this state. So it is no surprise to see Texas culture warriors reciting chapter and verse of the party platform in an attempt to strong-arm State Board of Education members into voting to insert phony “weaknesses” of evolution into the state’s science standards. Board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, played the orthodoxy card in his opinion piece in the San Antonio Express News this week:

I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.  They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists.

But have Mercer and his friends actually looked at what the Texas Republican Party platform has to say about this matter? Here is the relevant passage from the current GOP platform, which was drafted and approved in 2008: 

Theories of Origin – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as… Read More