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

A University of Texas scientist is expressing serious concerns about the qualifications of fellow reviewers examining new biology textbooks proposed for public high schools in the Lone Star State. A letter he sent to State Board of Education members this week also highlights concerns that SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, might have inappropriately tried to influence reviewers in Austin last month. His full letter is at the end of this post.

We reported on Monday that anti-evolution activists nominated by SBOE members to serve as official reviewers are pressuring publishers to weaken instruction on evolution in their new biology textbooks. Texas Education Agency staff appointed reviewers from the list of SBOE nominations and individuals who nominated themselves. State board members will use their reviews to help them decide whether to adopt the textbooks for use in Texas schools. The board has scheduled a public hearing on the textbooks for Tuesday (Sept. 17) and a final vote on adoption in November.

Late Wednesday, an SBOE member forwarded to the Texas Freedom Network a letter from Jimmy Gollihar, a doctoral student and scientist working at UT-Austin. Gollihar nominated himself as a reviewer.

Gollihar’s letter describes a “review process that… Read More

Now the veil is dropped.

We already knew that creationists on the State Board of Education had nominated anti-evolution ideologues to sit on teams reviewing proposed new high school biology textbooks in Texas. We now have seen the actual reviews from those ideologues — and they’re every bit as alarming as we warned they would be.

Many of the reviews offer recitations of the same pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo anti-evolution activists — like the folks at the Discovery Institute in Seattle — have been promoting for decades. Never mind, of course, that each one of those arguments has been debunked by scientists (repeatedly). No, they are insisting that Texas dumb down the science education of millions of kids with such nonsense.

Even more astonishing is a demand that “creation science based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.” Some of the reviewers are clearly oblivious to the fact that teaching religious arguments in a science classroom is blatantly unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has made that abundantly clear.

Tuesday, September 17, is the first (and only scheduled) public hearing on the proposed new biology textbooks. [UDPATE: A TEA official… Read More

Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has some good news about proposed new high school biology textbooks in Texas. A review of the new textbooks by science scholars at Texas universities shows that publishers have largely resisted — so far — efforts by political activists to include junk science that weakens coverage of evolution.

This new report from the TFN Education Fund comes after we reported that six proponents of “intelligent design”/creationism got influential positions on the State Board of Education‘s review panels for the proposed biology textbooks. And state board Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, has refused to say whether she tried to get the review panels to pressure publishers into weakening textbook content on evolution.

So while it’s clear that publishers are likely under a lot of pressure to dumb down their textbooks, the versions they submitted for consideration in April treat evolution as established, mainstream science. This is very good news because creationists on the State Board of Education made revisions to curriculum standards in 2009 that they hoped would force publishers to include discredited arguments against evolution in their new textbooks. Publishers refused to do so.

The challenge now will… Read More

Just Texas

To all who celebrate, we wish a very happy and sweet new year this Rosh Hashanah! We are incredibly grateful for the passionate Jewish leaders in our community working towards reproductive freedom, LGBTQ inclusion, and the empowerment of women. pic.twitter.com/jCcZ…