Cynthia Dunbar sounds just as extreme as she was when she left the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) at the end of 2010. Dunbar spoke Sunday night in Dallas as part of a panel discussion after a screening of the new documentary film “The Revisionaries.” The film, which premiered on Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, chronicles efforts by Dunbar and other religious-right SBOE members to hijack the revision of the science and social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools from 2008 to 2010. Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Dunbar on Sunday claimed opposition to including creationist’s anti-evolution arguments in science classrooms is “viewpoint discrimination.” From Kennedy’s piece:

Dunbar is one of several board members featured in the documentary, which “stars” former board Chairman Don McLeroy and his “young-Earth” view of creation, including his belief that dinosaurs were alongside other animals aboard Noah’s Ark.

The documentary revisits the board’ 2010 debate over teaching evolution.

Dunbar said even though “experts” oppose discussing other views as science, “that’s what they talked about in pre-Holocaust Germany as well.” She added that “making us a homogenous society that has [only] one… 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

The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has posted a new essay following up on the organization’s January report giving low marks to science curriculum standards in most states, including Texas. Dr. Paul R. Gross, an emeritus professor of life sciences at the University of Virginia, writes for Fordham’s Education Gadfly e-newsletter that weak coverage of evolution is a product both of religious objections and politics.

“A focused combination of politics with religion, in pursuit of (or opposed to) governmental action, is vastly more effective than either one alone.

By themselves … religious anti-evolutionists would wield scant power over state decisions. Real power comes by politicizing the arguments and switching them from scripture to more stylish notions: ‘scientific alternatives,’ ‘critical thinking,’ or—most commonly—’strengths and weaknesses of [Darwin’s] theory.’ When these are pressed by politicians dissing ‘Darwinism,’ a downgrading of science is underway.”

Gross writes that increasing efforts in state legislatures to politicize and undermine the teaching of evolution have serious consequences for science even if proposed anti-evolution measures don’t pass:

“(T)hey can still have real effect on classroom teaching, on textbook content and selection, as well as on the curriculum as taught. All this political activity and… Read More

After several years of especially divisive “culture war” battles over what Texas public school students should learn about evolution, history and other subjects, the State Board of Education last week decided that it will adopt new science textbooks for all schools in 2013. The new adoption schedule also has the board approving textbooks for history and social studies in 2014.

The decision to adopt new science and social studies textbooks comes after the board adopted controversial curriculum standards for both in recent years — science in 2009 and social studies in 2010. Independent reports over the past year have given both sets of standards poor marks.

Yesterday, for example, a report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute criticized the 2009 science standards in Texas as “riddled with errors,” “sketchy,” “redundant,” and “woefully imbalanced.” Last year a Fordham report called the American history standards adopted in 2010 a “politicized distortion” of American history filled with “misrepresentations at every turn.” And last fall a report for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Social Studies Faculty Collaborative warned that the social studies standards are “ineffective,” “fail to meet the state’s college readiness standards,” andRead More

This should tell you a lot about the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Texas State Board of Education. Last year the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute sharply criticized the state board for its “ideological manipulation,” historical revisionism and contempt for expertise in adopting new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2010. Today a new Fordham report gives science curriculum standards adopted by the state board in 2009 a grade of “C.” Yet here’s what state board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, had to say about the new Fordham report:

“As a science teacher, I am pleased that our standards received a score of 5 out of 7 for content and rigor. We look forward to continuing to work with Texas teachers to bring the best instruction to the classroom with our excellent science standards.”

Seriously? She celebrates a “C” grade? She really thinks Texas is giving kids the “best instruction” with “excellent science standards” that, in fact, get low marks from a conservative education think-tank? News flash for Ms. Cargill: Most parents don’t think mediocrity is something to celebrate, especially when it comes to the education of their… Read More