5:29 - That's a wrap. We're calling this hearing a lopsided victory for science. Thanks, everyone. Watch the blog tomorrow for video of former SBOE chair Don McLeroy's strange and confusing return to the board as a member of the public, and other fall-out from today's hearing. For pictures from today's science rally (and virtual rally), check out TFN's Stand Up for Science tumblr: http://standup4science.tumblr.com/. 5:15 - And now a rebuttal to Mr. Bennett from the next testifier, Arthur Stewart, senior minister at Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas, who states unambiguously that evolution should be in the textbooks, not any religious or theological beliefs. Amen. 5:10 - Gary Bennett, who identifies himself as Chairman of the Center for the Preservation of American Ideals, offers an unambiguous, explicit argument to include intelligent design and creation science "side by side" with evolution in the textbooks. SBOE member Thomas Ratliff asks which version of creationism should be in the textbooks. Bennett: "Biblical truth." Then he says all creationist beliefs (from all faiths) that are supported by scientific evidence should be taught. That might be an interesting class. But it sure wouldn't be science. 5:02 - Now the board hears from science defender (and YouTube…… Read More

“Any statements made were my own personal beliefs.”

That’s how Karen Beathard, an official state textbook reviewer, defends telling publishers that the biology textbooks they submitted for adoption in Texas this year should include “creation science based on biblical principles.”

Her statement encapsulates precisely the problem with the science textbook adoption process in Texas. Some State Board of Education (SBOE) members decided to nominate reviewers based on their personal beliefs, not their qualifications or expertise. And because they did so, SBOE members have undermined public confidence that the review process was anything but a sham.

Ms. Beathard, a dietician/nutritionist, has every right to her personal beliefs. The Texas Freedom Network will stand up for her right to express those beliefs in public or in private. But Texas students should get a 21st-century education that prepares them for college and the jobs of today. That means their textbooks should be based on established, mainstream science, not the personal beliefs of individuals who simply aren’t qualified to evaluate those textbooks.

Today the State Board of Education will hold its first public hearing on the new science textbooks. TFN Insider will be live-blogging from that meeting. We will also be… Read More

Another first-hand report from the science review panel meeting last month in Austin has emerged, and it seems to corroborate some of the concerns about the flawed process expressed last week by biology panel participant Jimmy Gollihar. Specifically, it raises more questions about what State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, was doing at that meeting.

This report comes from a member of the physics review panel, John Blanton, who writes about the experience on his blog Skeptical Analysis. During a break in the review session, Blanton struck up a conversation with biology reviewer Ide Trotter, long-time supporter of “intelligent design”/creationism, when suddenly:

…Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

(Blanton is not an “intelligent design” supporter, as he makes… Read More

The Houston Chronicle today published the following opinion column by Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller about the adoption of new science textbooks for Texas public schools this year:

The State Board of Education is marching once again toward a showdown over what Texas students should learn in their public school science classrooms. And with political shenanigans and problems over transparency already emerging, the debate over science education in the Lone Star State could again become the butt of national jokes.

The state board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday and will vote in November on which science textbooks the state’s schools should use over the next decade. What those textbooks say about evolution (and even climate change) is, as in the past, at the center of the debate.

Science scholars at the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University have given solid marks to how publishers dealt with evolution in the high school biology textbooks they submitted to the state in April. Their findings are available on the Texas Freedom Network’s website.

Sadly, a number of state education board members nominated anti-evolution activists to sit on official panels reviewing the textbooks. Those ideologues want publishers to include in the new textbooks discredited arguments attacking… Read More

All of us at the Texas Freedom Network are grateful for our friends at the National Center for Science Education. NCSE has been a fantastic partner in our battles at the State Board of Education, including the current debate over proposed new science textbooks for Texas public schools. Josh Rosenau, NCSE's programs and policy director, has been posting on NCSE's blog this week about some of the worst objections of anti-evolution activists serving as official reviewers examining new biology textbooks publishers have submitted for adoption in Texas. We're pleased to cross-post one of Josh's analyses here. Read More

LGBT Foundation

Happy International #PronounsDay! Today is a chance for us to make respecting, sharing & educating about personal pronouns more commonplace Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity Find out more at lgbt.foundation/pron… pic.twitter.com/dy8l…