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.


The Latest on Textbook Censorship

1:15 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) has begun the second and final public hearing on social studies textbooks up for adoption for Texas public schools. MerryLynn Gerstenschlager from Texas Eagle Forum is up now. She just criticized textbooks for not making sure students learn about the “debate” over climate change. She argues that climate change science is part of a United Nations conspiracy to redistribute wealth globally.

1:18 – SBOE member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, insists that students should learn “the other side” of the debate. If he wants students to learn the other side of the political debate, that’s one thing. But the IPCC has made clear that the overwhelming scientific evidence shows climate change is a real and growing threat and that human activity is the primary driver.

1:23 – Joanathan Kaplan, who teaches Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is critical of textbooks that present Moses as a major influence on the American founding, and he explains that it is a “gross exaggeration” for textbooks to suggest that the the roots of democratic political and legal traditions lie in the Old Testament.

1:25 – SBOE member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, insists that Mosaic… Read More

Proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools will not include climate-change denial. In late reversals, two publishing heavyweights, Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill, have both confirmed that they will submit corrected textbooks this week at the SBOE. TFN distributed the following news release in response to the corrections.

Publishers have agreed to correct or remove inaccurate passages promoting climate change denialism from new social studies textbooks proposed for Texas public schools, a coalition of science and education groups announced this afternoon. This news comes as the State Board of Education prepares for a second public hearing on the proposed textbooks and a final vote on which texts to approve for Texas schools. The textbooks will likely be sold in other states as well.

Prior to today, publishers Pearson Education, WorldView Software and Studies Weekly Publications had already submitted to Texas education officials revisions to textbook passages that had included inaccurate information about climate change. The original passages had cast doubt on the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that climate change is a real and growing threat and that human activity is the primary driver of the problem. Today publisher McGraw-Hill confirmed to the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) that it will… Read More

It seems that at least one member of the Texas State Board of Education likes to attack colleagues behind their back rather than address them face-to-face. And that same board member appears willing to break the law to hide such deceitful tactics.

We told you last month that Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, sent his state board colleagues a private memo chastising them for spending so much time pushing a politically motivated resolution that criticizes the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History course. Nearly 50,000 Texas high school students took the highly regarded course and its exam in 2013 to earn college credit. But board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, has criticized the course for supposedly undermining patriotism and promoting America-bashing.

Right-wing bloggers have echoed and spread Mercer’s baseless and silly claims, and the manufactured controversy has spread to other states as well. One Colorado State Board of Education member has even criticized the course for not teaching students that the United States ended slavery “voluntarily.”  Of course, the reason students don’t learn that is because it’s not true. But truth hardly slows down politicians trying to score cheap points with their gullible base.

Anyway, you can read Ratliff’s memo to his colleagues here. Very soon after he sent it, however, one… Read More

We just sent out the following press release.

Science and education advocates are calling on leading national publishers to revise proposed new social studies textbooks that include inaccurate and misleading information on climate science and promote climate change denialism. The Texas State Board of Education this month is considering the new textbooks, which could subsequently end up in schools across the country.

At a press conference today, advocates released letters to publishers from major national science associations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union and (jointly) the American Meteorological Society and American Association for Physics Teachers, calling for corrections to misleading information on climate change in the proposed new textbooks.

A review in September by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) revealed a number of problems with textbook passages dealing with climate change. One passage in a McGraw-Hill world geography and cultures textbook even equates arguments from a polluter-funded political lobby group, the Heartland Institute, with a Nobel-winning organization of international scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). An elementary school textbook from Pearson Education downplays the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists about what is causing climate change. The NCSE review is available at 

Of all the ways that the Texas State Board of Education twisted and distorted American history when adopting new social studies curriculum standards in 2010, one of the worst was — as the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has pointed out — the way “biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented.” The clear purpose of such exaggerations, of course, was the desire by the SBOE’s bloc of religious-righters to promote the idea that the founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its laws based on a conservative Christian reading of the Bible.

Sadly, publishers caved almost completely to the political pressure to include that historical revisionism in the new textbooks they submitted for consideration in Texas last April. As we have already reported, the textbooks teach that Moses was a major influence on the writing of our nation’s founding documents. They also suggest that the roots of democratic systems of government “include elements related to Judeo-Christian philosophy, dating back thousands of years to Old Testament texts and Biblical figures such as Moses and Solomon.” Of course, no one should deny the profound influence religion has played in American history. But textbooks shouldn’t exaggerate this influence to the point of simply… Read More

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