As we reported on Monday, a National Center for Science Education review finds that a number of proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools promote climate science denialism. One geography textbook, from publisher McGraw-Hill, even includes a passage written by political hacks at the polluter-funded Heartland Institute — the right-wing organization that a few years ago launched an infamous billboard campaign that featured “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski supposedly claiming: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

The McGraw-Hill textbook passage, written by Heartland’s Joseph Bast and James M. Taylor, also attacks the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that climate change is a real and growing threat. The textbook irresponsibly uses that factually inaccurate passage as a counterpoint to a paragraph from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

So who are Bast and Taylor?

Taylor is a senior fellow for Heartland and serves as managing editor of the organization’s Environment and Climate News publication.  He is also a spokesperson on a variety of media outlets and at events held by political groups like the similarly right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. And he writes a regular column on “energy and environmental issues” for Forbes magazine.

But Taylor isn’t a scientist. He’s a lawyer. His Heartland bio says… Read More

It’s always good to see folks in responsible positions refuse to play games with far-right fanatics who substitute ignorant, facts-free ideology for honest research and expertise. So we enjoyed reading a particular section of state District Judge John Dietz’s opinion on Thursday that the public school finance system in Texas violates the state Constitution.

The case is almost certainly headed to the Texas Supreme Court down the road. And Judge Dietz’s opinion is long — nearly 400 pages. But check out pages 335-336 of that opinion.

In his lengthy list of “Findings of Fact,” Judge Dietz rips into wild and unsubstantiated claims that the head of the right-wing, corporate-funded Heartland Institute, Joseph Bast, made when he testified in the case last year. The Heartland Institute argues, among other things, that the overwhelming scientific evidence on the growing threat of global climate change is wrong. It also supports voucher schemes that take funding from neighborhood public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools instead.

In his January 2013 testimony in the school finance base, Bast claimed that the Texas Taxpayers’ Savings Grant Program, a voucher scheme that failed to pass the Texas Legislature in 2011, would save the state about $2 billion over the first two years. As Dietz… Read More

On Tuesday the lawsuit trial in Austin over how Texas finances its public schools featured one of the national leaders of the private school voucher movement. Testimony from Joseph Bast, the president and CEO of the pro-voucher Heartland Institute, should be instructive for Texas legislators preparing for battle over vouchers in the current session. That’s because the testimony revealed, for all to see, the intellectual and factual bankruptcy of the voucher movement. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Bast testified that a voucher scheme called “taxpayer savings grants” would, by golly, be just great for low-income families, public schools, teachers and the state. But when he was cross-examined, Bast essentially revealed that he doesn’t know what in the world he’s talking about:

[Bast] said the state saves $7,750 each time a child leaves the public system and, therefore, “the program actually benefits the public schools.”

He estimated annual savings at about $2 billion and said “mainstream economic thinking” predicts the resulting competition would drive up teacher pay by as much as $12,000 per year in “a metropolitan area like Houston.”… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

Private school voucher schemes meeting their doom is the most rewatched #txlege movie. #NoVouchers twitter.com/scottbra…