Research and Reports

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is widely recognized as an influential think tank on a number of critical social policy issues. Our growing library of original research has become invaluable to policy-makers on a wide range of church-state and education issues, such as the faith-based initiative, public school Bible courses and sex education.

Contact us for hardcopies of any of these reports and publications. PDF versions are linked below. 


Grading the Textbooks: How Proposed Science Textbooks in Texas Address Climate Change and Evolution
Full Report, Press Release

This report by the TFN Education Fund and the National Center for Science Education evaluates the treatment of climate change as well as evolution in proposed instructional materials submitted by publishers for adoption this fall by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). Conservatives on and off the Texas SBOE have long objected to teaching students the scientific consensus on evolution and climate change. A panel of scientists and educators found that nearly all of the proposed textbooks – in varying degrees – address these two topics adequately.


Making the Grade: How State Public School Science Standards Address Climate Change
Full Report, Press Release
Scientists warn that the evidence makes clear climate change is a global emergency. But what do public school science standards — which guide classroom instruction, textbook content, and testing — say about the critical challenge students will inherit? The TFN Education Fund and the National Center for Science Education have released a national report card grading how each state addresses climate change in its own public school science standards. Texas is one of six states earning a failing grade.


Time for Change: Sex Education and the Texas Health Curriculum Standards
Full Report, Executive Summary + More Information
Researchers from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) share the state of sex education in Texas and recommendations for fact-based standards in a newly released report. The report and corresponding executive summary are freely available below for parents, educators, reporters and researchers.


Taking Politics Out of Classrooms: Recommendations for Revising the Texas Social Studies Curriculum Standards
Full Report | More Information + Take Action
Curriculum standards for Texas public schools approved by the State Board of Education in 2010 distort instruction on slavery and the Civil War, civil rights, religion and other hot-button topics. This TFN Education Fund report reexamines key issues in the standards for history, government and other social studies courses.


Conspiracy of Silence: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools
Executive Summary | Full Report | More Information + Take Action
This report exposes a deeply entrenched “conspiracy of silence” around sex education in Texas public schools. The report follows up on our groundbreaking 2009 study of what Texas students learn in their public school sex education classes.


Report Reveals Serious Flaws in Social Studies Textbooks
Executive Summary | American Government Textbooks | U.S. and World History Textbooks | Religion in World History Textbooks | Religion in World Geography Textbooks
Expert reviews from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund have identified serious problems with the proposed social studies textbooks under consideration by the State Board of Education in 2014. Many of those problems are linked to the controversial and heavily politicized curriculum standards adopted by the Texas board in 2010.

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum
An independent review raises serious concerns about a new curriculum that promoters hope will combat what they see as ignorance about the Bible among public school students. Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green, is publishing the curriculum, The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact.


TFN Education Fund Science Textbook Review
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund asked science scholars at the University of Texas at Austin and at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to review how proposed new high school biology textbooks and online instructional materials deal with evolution. Their reviews are particularly important because some of the country’s most prominent evolution deniers got influential positions on the state’s official review panels.

Texans Stand Up for Access to Birth Control
A new statewide poll from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund shows Texans believe that access to family planning and birth control is important and should not be limited by a woman’s income level, employer or medical provider.

Reading, Writing & Religion II
Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 documents a widespread failure to implement key guidelines passed by the Legislature in 2007 to improve the academic quality and legal status of Bible courses in Texas public schools.


Review of David Barton’sThe Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson
With the publication of his book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, David Barton seeks to break through to a wider audience with his account of the religious and moral life of the great Founder. In so doing, Barton hopes to expand his influence while securing the recognition as a legitimate historian that so far has eluded him. But his newest effort suffers from many of the same failures of his previous works, reinforcing widespread criticism that Barton distorts history in the service of an ideological argument rather than true scholarship.

Texas Science Curriculum Standards: Recommendations for Dealing with Pedagogical and Scientific Problems
Following the Texas State Board of Education’s adoption of new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2009, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund asked scientists at two of the state’s universities to analyze new standards regarding instruction on evolution. We identified four potentially problematic standards, all of which were promoted by evolution deniers on the State Board of Education. We have compiled the analyses and recommendations of Ben Pierce at Southwestern University and John Wise at Southern Methodist University into this helpful primer.


Sex Education in Texas Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State
Data collected by the Texas Education Agency — and analyzed by the TFN Education Fund — demonstrates that a quiet revolution is underway in Texas school districts. While abstinence-only instruction remains the predominant approach to sex education in the state, the percentage of school districts moving beyond a strict abstinence-only message has surged in recent years. Roughly 25 percent of districts now report taking an abstinence-plus approach to sex education. That compares to just 3.6 percent of districts doing so three short years ago – a 600 percent increase.

Review Of David Barton’s Textbook, Drive Thru History America: Foundations of Character
David Barton might be a popular speaker in conservative circles and considered a “historian” and “constitutional expert” by politico-entertainers like Glenn Beck and politicians like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But a scholar’s new review of Barton’s American history textbook exposes the Texan’s simplistic, selective and ideologically distorted accounts of the nation’s early history.

Senate Bill 6: Changes in the Adoption, Purchase and Distribution of Instructional Materials in Texas
Textbook adoptions for Texas public schools have often devolved into “culture war” firestorms, in which members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) try to censor and revise content in textbooks and instructional materials to conform to their own personal and political beliefs. However, the passage of Senate Bill 6 by the Texas Legislature in 2011 represents a sea change in the state’s system for approving textbooks and other instructional materials. This analysis explains how this legislation begins to move Texas toward a system in which what children learn in their classrooms will no longer be held hostage to the personal and political agendas of SBOE members.


Culture Wars in the Classroom: Texas Voters Call for a Cease-Fire
The Texas Freedom Network has long sounded the alarm about the consequences of the damaging “culture wars” raging on the Texas State Board of Education. But there has been little research into public opinion on these important issues. In May 2010 the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund commissioned the polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to find out where likely Texas voters stand on the heavily politicized State Board of Education, the process of writing curriculum and textbook requirements and other issues on the far right’s agenda for public education.


Just Say Don’t Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools
This groundbreaking report conclusively demonstrates that Texas is failing families and students when it comes to sexuality education. Classrooms are perpetuating a “conspiracy of silence” that robs young people of the reliable information they need to make responsible life decisions. Even worse, the information students do receive about sexuality and health is often grossly distorted or simply wrong.

The 81st Legislature: Change at the Capitol?
With the end of Tom Craddick’s reign as speaker and a near-even partisan split in the Texas House of Representatives, one might have assumed the religious right’s influence would be much weaker in the 81st Legislature. But the religious right’s influence over public policy was strong well before Rep. Craddick became House speaker in 2003. And while the House booted out a speaker anointed by the far right, bitter ideological battles over social issues appeared set to move to the Senate on the other side of the Capitol.


Evolution, Creationism & Public Schools: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century
Creationist pressure groups claim that there is a raging controversy over evolution within the science community. But the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has released a groundbreaking statewide survey of what science faculty at public and private universities in Texas really think about evolution and “intelligent design”/creationism. The results are not what evolution opponents want to hear.

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars
In the early 1990s, the religious right began a long process of turning a sleepy corner of Texas government the State Board of Education into a major battleground in the nation’s culture wars. Each year, the board’s far-right faction sparks battles on issues such as the teaching of evolution, medically accurate sex education and religion in public schools. Elections in 2006 brought the religious right to the brink of complete control of the state board for the first time. This third annual State of the Religious Right report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund examines how social conservatives have become so influential on the state board and what that means for more than 4.5 million children educated in Texas public schools.


God’s Lawgivers? Carrying the Water for the Religious Right in Texas Government
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s second annual State of the Religious Right report takes a close look at state officials who carry the water for the religious right in Texas. The report describes how Terri Leo, R-Spring, and other far-right bomb throwers on the State Board of Education are dragging our public schools into the culture wars. It also profiles key legislators – including newly elected state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford – who are leading the assault on religious freedom and individual liberties at the Capitol.


Reading, Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s 2005 report on a flawed Bible curriculum being marketed in public schools in Texas and the rest of the country raised an important question: Just what do Texas public schools tell their students about the Bible? To find the answer, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund surveyed all of the the state’s more than 1,000 public school districts. The results of this ground-breaking research have revealed serious problems in most Bible courses offered in Texas public schools. The report also offers school districts recommendations about how to create courses that are academically, ethically and legally appropriate.

The Anatomy of Power: Texas and the Religious Right in 2006
For more than a decade, Texans have watched religious extremists hijack the electoral process and promote a divisive political agenda in the state. To expose the strategy behind that deliberate campaign, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has produced a groundbreaking in-depth examination of the religious right in Texas. State of the Religious Right: The Anatomy of Power reveals how extremists use religion to divide us and partisan politics to belittle the faith of those who dare to disagree with them.


The Bible and Public Schools: Report on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools
Prepared by Dr. Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at SMU, this report reveals that the country’s most aggressively marketed – and perhaps most widely used – Bible curriculum advocates a sectarian perspective and is taught with materials plagued by shoddy research, blatant factual errors and plagiarized sources.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force: Turning a Day of Faith into a Rally for the Christian Right
A look at the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private organization that has hijacked community celebrations of the National Day of Prayer nationwide and turned them into Christian-only events with a political focus.


The Texas Faith-Based Initiative at Five Years: Warning Signs as President Bush Expands Texas-Style Program to National Level
The Texas Freedom Network released a report in 2002 that documented the lack of accountability and other failures in then-Gov. Bush’s Texas faith-based initiative.


Prayer in Public Schools – Religious Freedom in Texas: Statements of Faith, Statutes & Case Law

Broken Promises II: The Texas Charter School System at Five Years


Broken Promises: Charter Schools in Texas

Our Kids at Risk: A Statistical Portrait of Texas Children in Crisis
A review of the risks to children in this state, highlighting the hypocrisy of far right advocates who call themselves pro-family, but promote an agenda that is anti-child in the extreme.  The second in a two-part report examing the failures of the Texas charter school system.  The Texas Freedom Network provides readers with a concise, complete overview of the laws regarding prayer in public schools.

Video: Los Vales, No Valen: Vouchers in Texas, The Edgewood Story 


Video: Round Rock: Taking Back Our Schools
Examines the religious right’s “family values” policy initiatives that actually undermine the institutions that support working families.The first in a two-part report examining the failures of the Texas charter school system.