As we have reported, the State Board of Education voted last month to adopt all of the high school biology textbooks up for adoption in Texas. The adoption of one of those textbooks, from Pearson Education, was made contingent on a final examination of factual errors made by Ide Trotter, a creationist who had served on that textbook’s official review panel. (Pearson’s textbook is a market leader.) We now hear that the expert panel assigned to review the Pearson textbook appears pretty solid — all respected scholars and supporters of evolutionary science.

The three panelists include Ron Wetherington, an evolutionary anthropologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Arturo De Lozanne, an associate professor in molecular, cell and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin; and Vincent Cassone, chairman of the Biology Department at the University of Kentucky (and former department chair at Texas A&M).

Wetherington, who served as an official reviewer of several non-Pearson textbooks, has already analyzed and rejected Trotter’s complaints about the Pearson material. We published Wetherington’s analysis in September. De Lozanne testified during a public hearing in favor of adopting the textbooks and has called on the… Read More

Remember Cynthia Dunbar? She’s the creationist former member of the Texas State Board of Education who wrote a book in which she called public education “tyrannical,” unconstitutional and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” Dunbar left the board at the end of 2010 and last we heard was teaching law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. On Monday the folks at Fox & Friends invited Dunbar to talk about last week’s adoption of new science textbooks in Texas — in particular, the adoption of an environmental science textbook criticized by oil and gas industry advocates for its coverage of issues like hydraulic fracturing and climate change. As Media Matters reports, Dunbar bizarrely tied the textbook adoption to the Common Core standards and attacked it as an example of “socialized education”:

“This is what happens when you have socialized education pushing particular viewpoints within the classroom. I know Americans are concerned about socialized health care through Obamacare. I think they need to be equally concerned about socialized education through Obamacore.”

First, why would anyone still seek the opinion of a political extremist who viciously attacks the very public schools she was elected to… Read More

Last week's State Board of Education (SBOE) vote to adopt new science textbooks for Texas public schools represented an important victory for science education. But what you have been reading in the news media doesn't tell the whole story about what was happening behind the scenes in this battle -- including the effort to derail the adoption of one of the leading high school biology textbooks in the country. Following is the story of how science education came under attack in Texas and how it won in the end. Read More

The State Board of Education just voted to adopt all of the high school biology and environmental science textbooks without watering down instruction on evolution and climate change. We just sent out the following press release:

TEXAS TEXTBOOK ADOPTION IS A MAJOR VICTORY FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION

No Compromise on Science Instruction about Evolution or Climate Change in Textbooks, TFN President Says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 22, 2013

Despite last-minute efforts by some board members and political activists to derail the adoption of two textbooks, the State Board of Education today voted to adopt all of the proposed instructional materials up for adoption for high school biology and environmental science. Throughout the adoption process, publishers refused to make concessions that would have compromised science instruction on evolution and climate change in their textbooks, said Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of today’s vote, which is a huge win for science education and public school students in Texas,” Miller said. “Four years ago this board passed controversial curriculum standards some members hoped would force textbooks to water down instruction on evolution and climate change. But that strategy has failed because publishers refused to… Read More

Today science education advocates have good reason to be encouraged by developments in Texas. But we’re not out of the woods just yet.

After two hours of heated debate and nerve-wracking twists and turns, a majority on the State Board of Education very late last night gave preliminary approval to all of the proposed textbooks for high school biology and environmental science courses. None of those textbooks undermine instruction on evolution or climate change, much to the frustration of the board’s creationist faction.

The board must take a final vote on the adoption of those textbooks today, but the majority last night turned back a last-minute effort to derail the adoption of two of those textbooks: the biology product from publisher Pearson Education and the environmental science product from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The adoption of the Pearson textbook was held up because an anti-evolution activist appointed to serve as an official state reviewer alleged that it included nearly two dozen factual errors. Some of the alleged “errors” focused on relatively small and almost trivial details — such as whether scientists estimate the age of Earth as 4 billion or 4.2 billion years old. But most dealt with evolution or related concepts and… Read More