You can watch today’s public hearing at the State Board of Education live online here.

3:50 – The board hearing just ended. Board members will discuss the textbooks tomorrow (Wednesday). We’ll be here.

3:47 – Cargill and other board members keep arguing that nothing can be done about the flawed curriculum standards adopted in 2010. So in their view, the flawed textbooks get a free pass because the flawed standards they are based on are already on the books. Huh?

3:43 – Patty Quinzi from the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, compliments TFN for asking respected scholars to review the proposed textbooks. We appreciate that. It’s too bad state board members didn’t ensure that more than a tiny handful of university scholars served on the official state review teams.

3:38 – Emile Lester, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington who reviewed proposed government textbooks for the TFN Education Fund, is up. As he does in his report for us, Lester expresses concerns about how textbooks exaggerate religious influences — especially Moses — on the American founding and the Constitution. No one challenges his points.

3:17 – Zach Kopplin, a science advocate and member of Americans… Read More

7:45 p.m. – Ok, folks. We’re going to hang in here until they finish, but we don’t expect you to. We’ll skip the live-blog tonight and post a recap tomorrow morning. We’ll watch so you don’t have to. Be safe out there.

5:40 – If this is true, then the science hearing is likely to be pushed back even further into the night:

Hearing that Sen @DanPatrick & Rep @Aycockjda are headed to the SBOE to remind the board of legislative intent on HB5 #txlege

— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) November 20, 2013

5:30 p.m. – Still waiting for the science portion of the hearing to begin. It’s looking like we might be in for a long night.

2:05 p.m. – The state board is still considering a separate matter. So the hearing on the science textbooks is not likely to start until late this afternoon. Stay tuned.

We will be live-blogging from the State Board of Education‘s hearing today on proposed new science textbooks for Texas public schools. The hearing was set to start officially at 1 p.m., but other board business is pushing that start time until later.… Read More

5:29 - That's a wrap. We're calling this hearing a lopsided victory for science. Thanks, everyone. Watch the blog tomorrow for video of former SBOE chair Don McLeroy's strange and confusing return to the board as a member of the public, and other fall-out from today's hearing. For pictures from today's science rally (and virtual rally), check out TFN's Stand Up for Science tumblr: http://standup4science.tumblr.com/. 5:15 - And now a rebuttal to Mr. Bennett from the next testifier, Arthur Stewart, senior minister at Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas, who states unambiguously that evolution should be in the textbooks, not any religious or theological beliefs. Amen. 5:10 - Gary Bennett, who identifies himself as Chairman of the Center for the Preservation of American Ideals, offers an unambiguous, explicit argument to include intelligent design and creation science "side by side" with evolution in the textbooks. SBOE member Thomas Ratliff asks which version of creationism should be in the textbooks. Bennett: "Biblical truth." Then he says all creationist beliefs (from all faiths) that are supported by scientific evidence should be taught. That might be an interesting class. But it sure wouldn't be science. 5:02 - Now the board hears from science defender (and YouTube sensation) Aron Ra, who attempts a 2-minute science lesson. No questions from the class. 4:55 - Another helpful exchange over how to make sure review panel members are qualified. Dr. Christopher Randall, a biology professor, argues that only published, established faculty should directly participate in reviewing the textbooks. He analogizes: If we have a problem with the street, we hire someone who knows how to repair a street. Other folks can monitor that process -- that is, it will be public -- but they don't fix the street because they don't know what they're doing. This is a compelling argument, and one the board should weigh carefully. But we still maintain there is a way for the public to participate, while allowing the final word on factual errors and subject-matter coverage to those who actually understand the subject. 4:48 - Dr. Arturo de Lozanne, a cell biologist from UT-Austin, is now testifying before the board (having already spoken at TFN's #StandUp4Science rally earlier in the day!). Dr. de Lozanne points out the wealth of resources on the science faculty at UT that could be tapped when reviewing these textbooks. We second that. 4:43 - We'd like to circle back and pick up on something SBOE member Marty Rowley said a few minutes ago. Rowley asks a legitimate question -- if we restrict the review process to credentialed, qualified individuals, what role can the general public play in the review? This is a fair question. But the board could easily manage both by including members of the general public in the process, but ensuring qualified educators and subject-matters experts make up a majority of all the teams evaluating the products. It could further ensure that no publishers are held hostage to factually-inaccurate or problematic demands from review panels by adding an extra layer of review by real subject-matter experts with an advanced degree in the subject area. Texas's colleges and universities are full of them! (The board already does something similar with the curriculum review process.) These are just two possibilities for balancing public input with expert review. We'd support any efforts by Mr. Rowley or other board members to find the proper balance moving forward. 4:40 - One more note on Cargill's claims about review qualifications: Cargill suggests that a dietician has to take a lot of food science courses, so (she suggests) they're qualified. This is incredibly dishonest. A food science degree doesn't qualify someone to evaluate a biology textbook that includes instruction on a wealth of topics. Moreover, the biology panels include numerous engineers and chemists (most of whom are evolution deniers) who are simply not biologists. Cargill is defending the indefensible. 4:36 - Cargill now trying desperately to make the case that the biology panels were full of sufficiently qualified individuals (dieticians take lots of science classes!). I guess we know where the board chair stands on whether we need to raise the bar for these review teams. She seems satisfied with the status quo. Cargill goes one step further to scold the lack of biology teachers on the panels: "I want to know where were these teachers when the call went out for reviewers?" 4:26 - Bradley back at it, questioning Matt Simpson of the ACLU of Texas. Bradley claims that all the problematic comments came from "one reviewer." Wrong. David might want to read TFNInsider a little more regularly to save him from making fact-claims that are so easily falsifiable. Bradley goes on to ask if Christians are "ineligible to serve" on the reviews and "in the public square" because of their religious beliefs? Of course they're not. (As Simpson from the ACLU answered.) The question is what qualifications they have, not their religious beliefs. Many people of faith are great scientists. 4:20 - Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education helpfully makes the distinction between helpful and relevant comments by some members of the science review panels and the ideologically driven criticisms of evolution -- often drawn directly from creationist literature -- that others on those panels made. That's a great point. Many of the volunteers who served on these review panels did careful and honorable work to improve these textbooks. It's a shame we didn't have a majority of those qualified volunteers on all the panels. Money quote from Josh: "To ensure that 'Texas edition' is a mark of quality, not a warning label, I ask that you assure publishers they won't have to make revisions to satisfy these flawed reviews." Read More

We thought it might be useful to report some of the comments we're hearing today at the State Board of Education's ad hoc CSCOPE committee meeting. As of Thursday afternoon, 15 people had signed up to testify, but the committee is permitting other folks to sign up to speak today as well. (We should note that the Education Service Centers have renamed CSCOPE and now call it TEKS Resource System. "TEKS" stands for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state's required curriculum standards. TRS no longer includes lessons. The old CSCOPE lessons are in the public domain now, and those lessons are what the committee is charged with reviewing.) Read More

We’re back in the hearing room for the final vote, which is beginning now.

9:24 – The board jumps right in to a discussion of the disputed Holt McDougal product. A TEA spokesperson clarifies that they could find NO documentation to substantiate that multiple review panel members signed-off on the alleged “error” list presented yesterday. It appears that a single member of this panel is responsible for these charges, and it does not reflect a consensus opinion of the panel.

9:27 – Important note: TFN has obtained a copy of letter addressed to the state board signed by five members of the official biology review panels. The letter challenges the alleged “errors” identified in the report presented to the board late yesterday, concluding:

“Holt McDougal’s supplement, as well as the publisher’s response to the reviewers, accurately describes the current state of the science, satisfies the TEKS, and matches the other supplements already approved by the board on Thursday.”

9:28 – Board member Michael Soto, D-San Antonio, moves to strike the disputed “error” list in the Holt McDougal product. Heated discussion ensues.

9:31 – Here is a summary of what is going on: the alleged… Read More

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