TFN Insider will be live-blogging (and live-tweeting via @TFN) from the State Board of Education’s Thursday public hearing and Friday final debate and vote on the adoption of new science instructional materials for Texas public schools. This week’s state board meeting comes two years after board members adopted curriculum standards that creationists hoped would force publishers to challenge evolutionary science in their new instructional materials. Information about the meeting times and location is here.

The Texas news media is focusing on the story, including controversial comments from Barbara Cargill, the state board’s newly appointed chair. TFN Insider broke the news about Cargill’s comments questioning the faith of some of her board colleagues and insisting that the new science instructional materials be revised to conform to her creationist views. Check out an Austin American-Statesman editorial and stories from the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.… Read More

Efforts to push creationist instructional materials into Texas science classrooms were dealt a setback today. The Texas education commissioner's list of science materials recommended for adoption by the State Board of Education, which was released today, doesn't include the proposed materials from New Mexic0-based International Databases. The Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education reported last April that the International Databases materials reject mainstream evolutionary science and instead promote "intelligent design"/creationism. The commissioner's list is usually based on recommendations from Texas Education Agency review teams made up of teachers, scholars and other citizens. Those teams met in Austin last month to review all of the proposed science instructional materials. Apparently, the review teams decided that International Databases had failed to cover the required curriculum standards appropriately. On the other hand, the State Board of Education can choose to adopt or reject any instructional materials simply by a majority vote, regardless of what the education commissioner recommends. Moreover, it has been difficult to obtain information regarding any changes the other publishers might have made to their products to meet objections from creationists. And new state board chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, has already said…… Read More

New Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, made clear at her speech last week to Texas Eagle Forum activists that she is determined to politicize the board's adoption of science instructional materials on July 20-22. She'll be walking in the footsteps of former board chairman Don McLeroy and chairwoman Gail Lowe, both of whom failed to win Senate confirmation because they put their political agendas ahead of educating Texas kids. We've already told you about about Cargill questioning the faith of state board colleagues who don't agree with her. And we reported other troubling comments from Cargill's Texas Eagle Forum talk. But Cargill also made extended comments about the coming science adoption -- and those comments aren't encouraging for parents who want their children to get an education based on sound science instead of ideology. Read More

It's increasingly clear that the Texas State Board of Education this summer will be ground zero -- once again -- in the religious right's war on science. The newest indication of the pending battle comes from the website of Educational Research Analysts, one of the nation's oldest textbook censorship organizations. The website shows that the East Texas-based group will target the scheduled adoption of science instructional materials by the Texas state board in July. The religious-right outfit in Longview was founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler, who began pressuring publishers to censor their textbooks in the 1960s. The Gablers later turned their operation over to Neal Frey, who continues to run the shop. Here's what the group's website says about the upcoming science adoption:…… Read More

The Texas Education Agency just released the full list of members serving on the science review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for approval by the State Board of Education (SBOE). As TFN predicted earlier this spring, the review panel for biology includes a number of individuals with a history of promoting intelligent design/creationism or advocating the teaching of phony "weaknesses" of evolution in science classes. Last month the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education identified proposed materials from one vendor, New Mexico-based International Databases, that promote intelligent design/creationism as real science. Now evolution deniers on the review teams will likely use their positions as a podium to promote the same flawed arguments. Read TFN's press release here. A preliminary analysis by TFN of the biology review panel identified at least three anti-evolution activists:…… Read More