Important News: Publishers Are Resisting Pressure to Dumb Down Their Biology Textbooks for Texas

by Dan Quinn

We have now had our first look at changes publishers have submitted in response to objections — many of them attacks on evolution and climate change science — raised by official state review teams evaluating new science textbooks for Texas. And we have very encouraging news:

All 14 publishers are refusing to water down or compromise instruction on evolution and climate change in their proposed new high school biology textbooks.

These publishers deserve our thanks for standing up to pressure from right-wing politicians and activists working to corrupt the science in our children’s textbooks.

Click here to add your name to a “thank  you” email to publishers.

But this battle isn’t over yet. The State Board of Education still must vote to adopt these new textbooks and other instructional materials, which will be classrooms for up to a decade. In past years, ideologues on the state board have refused to adopt textbooks simply because they have political objections to factual content. So in the weeks leading up to the state board’s final vote on November 22, it’s important that we keep fighting to prevent right-wing politicians from putting their personal agendas ahead of the education of millions of Texas kids.

But let’s celebrate for now by thanking publishers who are joining with people across Texas in standing up for science.

Below is a press release we sent out announcing the news:

Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools.

“This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.”

Publishers submitted their proposed science textbooks for adoption in Texas last April. Last month State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, asked publishers to submit by Oct. 4 any changes they propose to meet objections to content raised by citizens appointed to review the textbooks. The Texas Education Agency made the publishers’ proposed changes available to the public on Oct. 11.

Some reviewers had criticized the proposed biology textbooks for failing to include a variety of discredited arguments attacking evolution. For example, reviewers lowered the rating of one textbook because it didn’t include the inaccurate claim that scientists have found no transitional fossils and that “the fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification.” Another reviewer insisted that all of the textbooks teach “creation science based on Biblical principles” alongside evolution.

Editorial changes from all 14 publishers that submitted high school biology textbooks for adoption this year do not reflect those arguments and beliefs, TFN’s examination shows.

The anti-evolution arguments promoted by the textbook reviewers are based on claims that scientists have shown to be false or simply have no place in a science textbook, said Arturo De Lozanne, associate professor in molecular cell and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“From what I can see so far, publishers are resisting pressure to do things that would leave high school graduates in Texas ill-prepared to succeed in a college science classroom,” De Lozanne said. “If we want Texas kids to be competitive nationally, we have to ensure that what they learn in their high school classrooms is based on facts, not ideology. Having said that, it’s remarkable and distressing that some folks are still arguing over what really is established, mainstream science.”

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on which science textbooks to adopt for Texas public schools at its November meeting. Most school districts will buy their textbooks from the state board’s list. The new textbooks could be in classrooms for nearly a decade, beginning in fall 2014.

thankyoupublishers

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