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

Late last week, TFN finally obtained an official list of the biology textbook reviewers who attended the in-person review panels in Austin earlier this month. You can see the list of reviewers – along with the products they were assigned – here.

We don’t yet know what is contained in the official recommendations these teams made to publishers, nor do we know how publishers are responding to those recommendations (TEA will hopefully release those public documents soon). But just scanning this list provides a clue about which publishers might be under pressure behind closed doors to compromise their products.

For starters, look at the members of the team at “Table 12”:

Karen Beathard, a lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University. Ms. Beathard has an MS degree and manages the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Didactic Program in Dietetics at Texas A&M.

Raymond Bohlin, vice president of vision outreach for Probe Ministries in Plano and a research fellow for the anti-evolution Discovery Institute. Bohlin has a doctorate in molecular and cell… Read More

For those of you who have been following the debate over science textbooks at the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), here’s a simple explanation of where things currently stand:… Read More

Update: The AMA is now live and can be found here. We’ll start answering questions at 11:30 a.m. CDT

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If you’re a supporter of sound, peer-reviewed scholarship in Texas public school science textbooks, we invite you to join us Wednesday for a Q&A with our friend Zack Kopplin.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. CDT, Zack and TFN staff will hold a redditAMA (“Ask Me Anything”). We’ll talk about Zack’s efforts to get creationism out of public school science classes in Louisiana, TFN’s efforts to do the same in Texas, and the Texas SBOE’s science textbook adoption process.

We’ll post a link to the AMA here, on our Facebook page and on our Twitter account as soon we have one. Feel free to chime in with your questions.… Read More