As we have reported, the State Board of Education voted last month to adopt all of the high school biology textbooks up for adoption in Texas. The adoption of one of those textbooks, from Pearson Education, was made contingent on a final examination of factual errors made by Ide Trotter, a creationist who had served on that textbook’s official review panel. (Pearson’s textbook is a market leader.) We now hear that the expert panel assigned to review the Pearson textbook appears pretty solid — all respected scholars and supporters of evolutionary science.
The three panelists include Ron Wetherington, an evolutionary anthropologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Arturo De Lozanne, an associate professor in molecular, cell and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin; and Vincent Cassone, chairman of the Biology Department at the University of Kentucky (and former department chair at Texas A&M).
Wetherington, who served as an official reviewer of several non-Pearson textbooks, has already analyzed and rejected Trotter’s complaints about the Pearson material. We published Wetherington’s analysis in September. De Lozanne testified during a public hearing in favor of adopting the textbooks and has called on the… Read More
Last week's State Board of Education (SBOE) vote to adopt new science textbooks for Texas public schools represented an important victory for science education. But what you have been reading in the news media doesn't tell the whole story about what was happening behind the scenes in this battle -- including the effort to derail the adoption of one of the leading high school biology textbooks in the country. Following is the story of how science education came under attack in Texas and how it won in the end. Read More
The State Board of Education just voted to adopt all of the high school biology and environmental science textbooks without watering down instruction on evolution and climate change. We just sent out the following press release:
TEXAS TEXTBOOK ADOPTION IS A MAJOR VICTORY FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION
No Compromise on Science Instruction about Evolution or Climate Change in Textbooks, TFN President Says
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 22, 2013
Despite last-minute efforts by some board members and political activists to derail the adoption of two textbooks, the State Board of Education today voted to adopt all of the proposed instructional materials up for adoption for high school biology and environmental science. Throughout the adoption process, publishers refused to make concessions that would have compromised science instruction on evolution and climate change in their textbooks, said Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller.
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of today’s vote, which is a huge win for science education and public school students in Texas,” Miller said. “Four years ago this board passed controversial curriculum standards some members hoped would force textbooks to water down instruction on evolution and climate change. But that strategy has failed because publishers refused to… Read More
Today science education advocates have good reason to be encouraged by developments in Texas. But we’re not out of the woods just yet.
After two hours of heated debate and nerve-wracking twists and turns, a majority on the State Board of Education very late last night gave preliminary approval to all of the proposed textbooks for high school biology and environmental science courses. None of those textbooks undermine instruction on evolution or climate change, much to the frustration of the board’s creationist faction.
The board must take a final vote on the adoption of those textbooks today, but the majority last night turned back a last-minute effort to derail the adoption of two of those textbooks: the biology product from publisher Pearson Education and the environmental science product from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The adoption of the Pearson textbook was held up because an anti-evolution activist appointed to serve as an official state reviewer alleged that it included nearly two dozen factual errors. Some of the alleged “errors” focused on relatively small and almost trivial details — such as whether scientists estimate the age of Earth as 4 billion or 4.2 billion years old. But most dealt with evolution or related concepts and… Read More
When the State Board of Education‘s public hearing on new science textbooks for Texas public schools finally began late Wednesday night, it became clear that creationists were unable to mount a real attack on the biology textbooks. So all looked to be going well — until it became equally clear that oil and gas industry interests had decided to attack the only environmental science textbook up for adoption by the state board.
The last person to testify, Becky Berger, who identified herself a geologist and oil and gas professional, insisted that high schools shouldn’t even teach environmental science classes. She proceeded to attack the environmental science textbook from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). Berger claimed that the textbook is filled with factual errors on topics like pollution potentially caused by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and the problem of carbon emissions (which the vast majority of scientists say is the primary cause of climate change). But she provided no actual written documentation to back up her claims. None. In fact, she didn’t even provide a list of the alleged errors so that the publisher could respond to her claims.
The state’s official review teams had not identified any factual errors in the… Read More