Publishers Resist Political Pressure To Alter Biology Textbooks

Publishers Resist Political Pressure To Alter Biology Textbooks

October 29, 2003

Austin, Texas In this year’s battle over the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms, publishers of Biology textbooks withstood a political push aimed at forcing them to rewrite the books. Now the controversy moves back to the State Board of Education, which will vote to approve or reject textbooks on November 6 and 7.

Yesterday the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the changes to Biology textbooks proposed by publishers in response to public testimony on the books.

Several organizations, led by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based group dedicated to promoting “intelligent design,” have undertaken a well-funded campaign to pressure publishers to make the books more critical of the theory of evolution. Records released yesterday by TEA indicate the publishers resisted this push.

“In keeping with their commitment to provide students with the best possible science education, Biology textbook publishers have stood up to political pressure,” said Samantha Smoot, President of the Texas Freedom Network. “We applaud publishers for doing what’s right for Texas kids, despite the demands of far-right interest groups.”

The final round of debate now shifts back to the State Board of Education, where Board members will vote next week to approve or reject the 11 proposed Biology textbooks.

“Creationist activists will launch a last-ditch campaign next week to force the rewrite or rejection of Biology textbooks,” said Smoot.

Observers predict groups attacking evolution will now attempt to manipulate the state’s curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), to be unduly critical of the theory of evolution. The strategy, laid out by anti-evolution leader Terri Leo at the July Board meeting, is to selectively apply to the theory of evolution a curriculum requirement, TEKS 3(a), that students learn to discuss strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories.

“The TEA review panels have spoken, the scientific and teaching communities have spoken, and mainstream Texans have spoken, but the risk to our students’ education remains,” added Smoot. “The State Board of Education has a responsibility to approve the Biology textbooks and guarantee that our children’s science education is not jeopardized by political agendas.”