Evolution deniers don’t like it when science textbooks tell students the truth. And creationists were really unhappy last year when they failed to pressure publishers into undermining the teaching of evolution in new biology textbooks adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE) for Texas public schools. So now they’re making a last-ditch effort to bully publishers into falsifying the science in those textbooks.

We told you in January that the head of an East Texas organization that opposes the teaching of evolution, the absurdly misnamed Educational Research Analysts, had filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Neal Frey’s complaint charged that Pearson Education’s high school biology textbook was wrong in explaining the close similarities between chimpanzee and human DNA. The textbook said scientific evidence shows that chimps are the closest living genetic relatives of humans. Creationists hate that. Pearson responded to Frey’s complaint by pointing out how he simply doesn’t know what in the world he’s talking about.

Well, this week the Texas Freedom Network discovered that SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill backed Frey’s complaint. Of course, it’s no great surprise Cargill would support a fellow evolution denier’s efforts to dumb down a science textbook. What’s particularly troubling here is how she did it.

Writing in a January 8 email TFN obtained through a request under the state’s open records… Read More

We now have Pearson Education’s response to claims that the publisher’s high school biology textbook for Texas public schools contains factual “errors” in its discussion of the genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees. In a detailed response, the company essentially says (politely) that the anti-evolution activist who has made the claims simply doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

Neal Frey, who runs an East Texas-based censorship outfit called Educational Research Analysts and rejects the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution, filed his formal complaint against the Pearson textbook with the Texas Education Agency last month. Frey claims that textbook statements pointing out that chimpanzees are humans’ closest living relatives “falsify known facts.” And he demands that state officials require Pearson to “correct” the alleged errors or fine the publisher if it refuses to make the changes.

In its response, Pearson points out that Frey has mischaracterized the technical papers he points to as evidence for his claims. “(N)one of the five technical monographs provides any evidence disputing the conclusion that chimpanzees are humans’ closest living relatives,” Pearson writes, before taking readers through each of those paper’s research and conclusions. The… Read More

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted new biology textbooks for public high schools last fall, but anti-evolution activists are still trying to censor those textbooks. And they seem to be targeting one in particular: Pearson Education’s high school textbook by authors Ken Miller and Joe Levine.

Through a request under the Texas Public Information Act, last week we obtained from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) a new complaint filed by the head of one of the oldest textbook censorship organizations in Texas. The complaint, filed by Neal Frey of Educational Research Analysts (ERA) in the East Texas town of Longview, alleges that information in the Pearson textbook about the genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees is factually inaccurate. Frey claims that the textbook is wrong in two places where it says that DNA evidence shows chimpanzees are humans’ closest relatives. (ERA was founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler, pioneers in the right-wing textbook censorship movement.)

Click here to read Frey’s complaint: Frey_Error_Complaint.

Frey lists seven general argument in support of his complaint against the Pearson textbook; all seven appear on the ERA website. He also claims that one of… Read More

Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, wondered how the creationist chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) came to appoint a real scientist and evolution defender to a key textbook review panel. As we reported on Tuesday, that panel unanimously rejected creationist claims that a leading high school biology textbook from Pearson Education was filled with “factual errors.” The panel’s decision removed the last obstacle to that textbook’s official approval by the SBOE for use in Texas public schools. To learn more about what happened, Josh reached out to Vincent Cassone, the chair of the University of Kentucky Biology Department appointed by creationist Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, to serve on the panel. Here is Josh’s report:

With the news that an expert review panel unanimously approved Pearson’s Biology textbook and rejected creationist criticisms of it, there was one last nagging mystery in the Texas textbook saga. I expected the book to be approved as written, having said it would take five minutes for reviewers to see that the complaints against the book were bogus. And I understood why Arturo De Lozanne and Ron Wetherington, both Texas scientists long active in… Read More

This year’s sweeping win for science education in Texas now appears to be complete.

Multiple sources tell us that a special expert panel has given unanimous approval to the Pearson biology textbook whose adoption by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) last month had been tripped up by allegations that it contained “factual errors.”

A creationist on the panel that reviewed the Pearson textbook last summer had claimed that there were nearly two dozen “factual errors” in the product. Pearson and the textbook’s authors flatly rejected those claims in a detailed rebuttal and refused to make changes. Pearson’s textbook is widely used throughout the nation’s high schools.

At its November meeting, the SBOE voted to adopt all of the high school biology textbooks proposed for Texas public schools, including the Pearson product. However, SBOE members made the Pearson textbook adoption contingent on a final review of the alleged “errors” by a panel of experts.

SBOE member Sue Melton, R-Waco, appointed University of Texas biologist Arturo De Lozanne and SBOE member Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, chose SMU anthropologist Ron Wetherington to serve on the expert review panel. SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, appointed… Read More

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