Don McLeroy, the arch-creationist former chairman of the State Board of Education, is displeased over how some folks have interpreted his public hearing testimony last week about proposed new biology textbooks for Texas high schools. Here’s how the San Antonio Current describes his testimony in a story published online today:

While McLeroy described some of the evolution instruction in the unedited books as “unsubstantiated” and “dogmatic” (pot, kettle?) he, unlike other creationist proponents, oddly considers the statements weak enough to support overall. Within the pages lie, “hidden gems just waiting to be mined by inquisitive students that could destroy evolution,” he said, referring to a supposed open door to evolution denial he slipped into the books as Board chair. But those loopholes don’t seem to actually exist—researchers with the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University found the books to affirm evolution as, “factual, well-established, mainstream science.”

The fight over evolution v. creationism is sadly nothing novel in the Texas textbook wars, but the former Board chair’s overt admission may be. In the end, McLeroy, clawing at his last shot to wield influence and now untethered to the careful religious boundaries one can’t overstep… Read More

Anti-evolution activists have been alarmingly influential in the state’s official review process for proposed high school biology textbooks in Texas, but truly qualified reviewers have also been part of the process. One of the best examples of the latter is Ron Wetherington, an evolutionary anthropologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Wetherington is not just a highly respected scholar and published researcher. He also is a veteran of the evolution battles at the State Board of Education (SBOE). In 2008-09, for example, he served as an expert adviser during the SBOE’s controversial revision of science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. As the award-winning documentary The Revisionaries makes clear, Wetherington helped frustrate creationists’ efforts to undermine instruction on evolution in those standards.

This year Wetherington is serving as an official reviewer for Texas textbook adoption. The textbooks assigned to him for review did not include Pearson Education’s biology textbook, one of the leading texts in the market. However, that textbook did go through the review panel that included Ide Trotter, one of the most prominent anti-evolution activists in the state. And sure enough, that panel’s review is filled with misleading and… Read More

TFN has been in the news in bunches during the past few weeks due to our #StandUp4Science campaign and related efforts. Below you’ll find those press hits.

Excuse us if we’ve missed a few, we’ll be adding more as we come across them. Plus, we expect some new ones will be published soon.

And don’t forget that the State Board of Education’s vote to approve new science textbooks won’t happen until November, so our work goes on. Take a moment to sign the Stand Up for Science petition if you haven’t done son already:

New York Times One is a nutritionist who believes “creation science” based on biblical principles should be taught in the classroom. Another is a chemical engineer who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame. A third is a trained biologist who also happens to be a fellow of the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based center of the intelligent-design movement and a vice president at an evangelical ministry in Plano, Tex.

As Texas gears up to select biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade, the panel… Read More

During last week’s State Board of Education (SBOE) meetings, various board members suggested that the Texas Freedom Network had inappropriately or inaccurately reported what’s going on in the review of proposed new biology textbooks for Texas high schools. So let’s clear up a few things.

SBOE members suggested that TFN inappropriately released findings and objections by textbook reviewers.

Texans have a right to know what state-appointed reviewers are saying about textbooks proposed for their children. So TFN posted on our website the review panels’ August reports that were provided by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) after our request under the Texas Public Information Act. As the TEA legal counsel noted at Friday’s SBOE meeting, those reports are public documents. Publishers are currently negotiating with reviewers over objections to their textbooks that are listed in the panel review reports.

SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, protested that the reviewer reports TFN cited were only “preliminary.”

Casually dismissing these review reports as “preliminary” is greatly misleading. Publishers must decide what changes to make — if any — based on reviewers’ findings and objections recorded in these “preliminary” reports. Reviewers then evaluate those publisher responses, revise their reports accordingly, and… Read More

In something of a tour de farce, on Tuesday arch-creationist and former State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy returned to the same state board meeting room in which he led efforts to rewrite science curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2008-09. Those controversial standards, he hoped, would “strike a blow” against evolution in science education and, in particular, in new science textbooks that publishers would subsequently write. (Please excuse the periodic but short video blackouts in the clip above.)

Speaking at the SBOE’s public hearing on the proposed new science textbooks publishers submitted for approval in April, McLeroy — who lost a re-election bid in 2010 — launched into one of the most bizarre arguments we heard throughout the day. Before and after he spoke, creationists sharply criticized the textbooks for failing to include their discredited arguments attacking evolution. But not McLeroy. The College Station dentist insisted that the SBOE should actually adopt the textbooks because, he said repeatedly and emphatically, the evidence supporting evolution in those books is “weak”:

“Ironically, evolutionists argue that creationists want to force their religious views on the texts. But just the teaching of biology does that, and teaching evolution… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

It took years to convince the @TXSBOE to create a Mexican American studies course for the state's public schools. It's great to see school districts offering it to students.