Texas State Board of Education, a Notorious Hotbed of Anti-Science Politics, Will Vote This Fall on Which Textbooks to Adopt for Public Schools
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Freedom Network Education Fund and National Center for Science Education today released a new report analyzing how proposed science textbooks offer improved opportunities for the state’s students to learn more about climate change as Texans and the Texas power grid strain to deal with record heat in summer and extreme cold snaps in winter.
“Climate change is real, and it’s getting worse,” said Carisa Lopez, senior political director of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. “It is critical to teach students the truth about climate change, what’s causing it, and what we can do about it. This is a crisis they will inherit and have to deal with, both in their personal lives and as voters and leaders, in the decades ahead.”
“Climate change is the single largest challenge the human race is facing right now,” added Judy Dickey, a doctoral candidate in atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M and expert reviewer for the report.
The report, Grading the Textbooks, 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). A panel of scientists and educators found that nearly all of them – in varying degrees – address these two topics adequately.
Conservatives on and off the Texas SBOE have long objected to teaching students the scientific consensus on evolution and climate change. One board member earlier this year suggested teaching students about the dangers of climate change might be inappropriate because the fossil fuel industry helps fund the state’s public schools.
“The textbooks comply with the basic requirements set by the state regarding the treatment of climate change and evolution, though there’s certainly room for improvement in their treatment of these topics,” said Glenn Branch, NCSE’s deputy director. “The takeaway message is that if members of the state board nevertheless insist on objecting to the textbooks’ treatments of climate change and evolution, it will reflect only their own misinformed and misguided views of these scientifically uncontroversial topics.”
Texas was one of six states earning an F three years ago in a national report card that evaluated how state science standards across the country address climate change. The Texas SBOE made marginal improvements on climate change in new standards adopted in 2020 and 2021. But a majority of board members rejected proposed standards to help students more fully understand the crisis, despite the pleas of climate scientists in the state.
Textbooks are generally geared to state science standards. Because the Texas market is so large, the state has typically had a strong influence on textbook content across the country.
Although the reviewers for today’s report found the textbooks cover climate change, they wanted the textbooks to teach more about its cause, what can be done to mitigate its consequences, and how to identify disinformation on the issue.
The state board is set to hold a public hearing on the proposed textbooks next week. SBOE members will vote on which textbooks to adopt in November.