Austin public radio station KUT is airing and streaming online a new documentary about the right’s long-running culture war over public education in Texas. “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom,” by award-winning producer Trey Kay, looks at the ongoing political witch hunt over CSCOPE as well as the divisive battle over content in textbooks for Texas public schools.

KUT aired the documentary Sunday evening and will re-air it at 7 p.m. Tuesday. If you’re not in the KUT listening area, you can tune in online at kut.orgThe full documentary is also online here and below.

The hour-long program begins with a focus on right-wing attacks on CSCOPE but moves on to discuss how Mel and Norma Gabler helped politicize the adoption of textbooks in Texas decades ago. The East Texas couple — now deceased — founded Educational Research Analysts, which is run today by their protégé Neal Frey in Longview. (Click here for more background information on Educational Research Analysts.) The documentary also examines the battle over what science textbooks should teach about evolution in public school classrooms.

The documentary, which includes comments from Texas Freedom Network President… Read More

We’re excited to tell you that the Texas Freedom Network’s fight against textbook censorship and efforts to politicize public education will be part of a new documentary film premiering this weekend at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. “The Revisionaries” explores how far-right radicals on the State Board of Education in Texas worked from 2008 to 2010 to undermine the teaching of evolution and rewrite history in a campaign to indoctrinate public school students with their ideological agenda.

Here’s a trailer for the new film:

The film will also be screened at the Dallas International Film Festival this Sunday (April 22), the Independent Film Festival in Boston on April 30 and the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto beginning on May 1. Click here for more information about the screenings, including dates and locations.

TFN President Kathy Miller will attend the screenings at Tribeca and in Dallas and will also take part in panel discussions about the film and how the radical right is trying to hijack public education in America.

Director Scott Thurman of Texas has worked… Read More

Stop us if you've heard this one before. An extremist pastor walks into a library to destroy public property and when the stunt royally backfires on him, he recruits a member of his congregation to craft an unconstitutional city ordinance that essentially made his church members the morality police and the arbiters of what you and your children can read. No? Never heard that one before? It happened in Wichita Falls in the late 1990s. The pastor in question is Robert Jeffress, at the time the senior pastor of First Baptist Wichita Falls. Jeffress has since moved on to bigger things. He's now at First Baptist Dallas and in the past week has stirred controversy by endorsing Gov. Rick Perry and going on the attack against the Mormon faith of Perry rival Mitt Romney. Jeffress' 1998 controversy erupted after he learned that the Wichita Falls Public Library had purchased two copies each of "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate," both children's books about kids with same-sex parents. Read More

by Jose Medina

A few weeks ago we told you about the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer’s claim that the Bible is the only book banned in the country’s public schools.

Fischer has obviously not been to Texas where a course on the Bible is offered as an elective. Wait. He actually has been to Texas. Fischer was at Reliant Stadium on Aug. 6 for a prayer event the AFA held in conjunction with Gov. Rick Perry, the man who signed the Bible elective legislation into law.

But in any case, we’re nearing the end of Banned Books Week 2011 and we would encourage TFN Insider readers to pick up a banned book and read. We’ll remind you that in some cases, the people who would call for a book ban are the same people who would support the far-right shenanigans at the Texas State Board of Education and the state Capitol that TFN works to stop.

The American Library Association has a list of the books most often challenged in the United States during the last 10 years. Spoiler alert: none of the books on the list is the Bible.

If you’re interested in Texas-specific information,… Read More

The religious right doesn't just target science and social studies when it comes to politicizing public school classrooms. The movement's pressure groups attack education on a broad front, pushing a divisive agenda throughout the public school curriculum -- including even reading and English classes. Educational Research Analysts, the old right-wing warhorse of the textbooks "culture wars" in Texas, makes that clear on its website. ERA, founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler in East Texas, lists on its website the criteria by which it judges the quality of reading textbooks. The heavy emphasis on phonics is predictable. But so are the requirements ERA establishes for content in reading programs. Among the group's demands: Equal stress on Europe's literary, religious, and cultural heritage compared to other regions Diverse views on current controversial issues, when raised (e.g., "global warming," feminism, evolution) No sensational violence, offensive language or illustrations, occultism, or deviant lifestyles (e.g., homosexuality) No politically-correct stereotypes of oppressors and/or victims by race, class, creed, or gender…… Read More