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 www.tfn.org/history.
Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director for NCSE, pointed out that the problematic passages would mislead students into believing that climate scientists disagree on whether climate change is a real and growing threat caused largely by human activity.
“Students in school today will graduate into a world shaped by climate change, and they deserve textbooks that tell students what scientists have known for decades: humans are causing climate change,” Rosenau said. “It’s time for publishers to focus on the needs of students in every state, not the political squabbles of the Texas board of education.”
The letters are available at http://ncse.com/files/TX_letters/Letters_from_science_societies.pdf.
Several publishers have already indicated that they will correct problematic textbook passages on climate change. However, so far two leading national publishers, Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill, have not done so.
Camille Parmesan, a professor in geology at the University of Texas at Austin who also holds the National Marine Aquarium Chair in the Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health at University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, warned that teaching junk science undermines the education of public school students and our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.
“Our children cannot compete in the global marketplace of the future unless they achieve science literacy,” Parmesan said. “So it’s important that the state board reject proposed textbooks that mislead students about what mainstream science tells us. Students deserve to know the true scientific facts about human-caused climate change.”
Lisa Hoyos, director and co-founder for national organization Climate Parents, also released a letter signed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Alliance for Climate Education, Sojourners and other science, education and environmental groups calling on publishers to correct their textbooks. Additional signers are expected before the Texas education board takes a final vote on the textbooks November 21. The letter is available at http://ncse.com/files/TX_letters/NCSE_CP_TFN-signon.pdf.
“Parents cannot trust McGraw Hill and Pearson because these national publishers are knowingly misleading students about climate change,” Hoyos said. “It is unethical to lie to kids to begin with, but to lie to them about an issue that so deeply will affect our schoolchildren’s future is simply reckless.”
The Texas Freedom Network, National Center for Science Education and Climate Parents also announced that a petition calling on publishers to correct their textbooks has collected more than 30,000 signatures from Texans and other education advocates from across the country. The petitions call on the Texas education board to reject textbooks if publishers don’t correct those errors.
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, echoed concerns of scientists from across the country.
“Climate science has become one of the most politically divisive issues in the United States,” Hayhoe said. “A thermometer isn’t Democrat or Republican, though; and what’s happening to our planet isn’t up for interpretation based on whether we’re looking at it through shades of red, blue, or even green.”
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller urged parents to insist that the state board approve and local schools purchase only textbooks that include accurate information on climate science and other potentially controversial topics.
“For too long now, politics has dominated what students in Texas learn about critical issues like climate change,” Miller said. “So parents must insist that our students get textbooks based on the recommendations of scholars and other experts rather than on the demands of politicians who pressure publishers into distorting research and facts.”
Texas has long had a major influence on textbooks sold around the country. Because the state’s market is so big, publishers often write their textbooks for Texas and then sell the texts to schools elsewhere as well.
The Texas State Board of Education will hear public testimony on the proposed social studies textbooks on Tuesday, November 18. The board is scheduled to take a final vote on which textbooks to approve on Friday, November 21. The new textbooks will go into classrooms beginning in the 2015-16 school year.