Proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools will not include climate-change denial. In late reversals, two publishing heavyweights, Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill, have both confirmed that they will submit corrected textbooks this week at the SBOE. TFN distributed the following news release in response to the corrections.

Publishers have agreed to correct or remove inaccurate passages promoting climate change denialism from new social studies textbooks proposed for Texas public schools, a coalition of science and education groups announced this afternoon. This news comes as the State Board of Education prepares for a second public hearing on the proposed textbooks and a final vote on which texts to approve for Texas schools. The textbooks will likely be sold in other states as well.

Prior to today, publishers Pearson Education, WorldView Software and Studies Weekly Publications had already submitted to Texas education officials revisions to textbook passages that had included inaccurate information about climate change. The original passages had cast doubt on the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that climate change is a real and growing threat and that human activity is the primary driver of the problem. Today publisher McGraw-Hill confirmed to the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) that it will… Read More

We just sent out the following press release.

Science and education advocates are calling on leading national publishers to revise proposed new social studies textbooks that include inaccurate and misleading information on climate science and promote climate change denialism. The Texas State Board of Education this month is considering the new textbooks, which could subsequently end up in schools across the country.

At a press conference today, advocates released letters to publishers from major national science associations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union and (jointly) the American Meteorological Society and American Association for Physics Teachers, calling for corrections to misleading information on climate change in the proposed new textbooks.

A review in September by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) revealed a number of problems with textbook passages dealing with climate change. One passage in a McGraw-Hill world geography and cultures textbook even equates arguments from a polluter-funded political lobby group, the Heartland Institute, with a Nobel-winning organization of international scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). An elementary school textbook from Pearson Education downplays the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists about what is causing climate change. The NCSE review is available at 

Of all the ways that the Texas State Board of Education twisted and distorted American history when adopting new social studies curriculum standards in 2010, one of the worst was — as the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has pointed out — the way “biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented.” The clear purpose of such exaggerations, of course, was the desire by the SBOE’s bloc of religious-righters to promote the idea that the founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its laws based on a conservative Christian reading of the Bible.

Sadly, publishers caved almost completely to the political pressure to include that historical revisionism in the new textbooks they submitted for consideration in Texas last April. As we have already reported, the textbooks teach that Moses was a major influence on the writing of our nation’s founding documents. They also suggest that the roots of democratic systems of government “include elements related to Judeo-Christian philosophy, dating back thousands of years to Old Testament texts and Biblical figures such as Moses and Solomon.” Of course, no one should deny the profound influence religion has played in American history. But textbooks shouldn’t exaggerate this influence to the point of simply… Read More

When Texas last adopted social studies textbooks in 2002, the new texts — particularly for the Grade 7 Texas History course — came under heavy fire from critics concerned over what they saw as poor coverage of the history and experiences of Mexican Americans. So when publishers submitted their proposed new textbooks this past spring, we wanted to know how their products covered Mexican-American history in the Lone Star State.

The answer: coverage is considerably better than it was 12 years ago, but some concerns remain.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund asked Dr. Jose Maria Herrera, a historian at the University of Texas at El Paso, to review textbooks for the Grade 7 Texas History. Textbooks from major publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education are the only ones currently under consideration by the State Board of Education. Herrera summarized his findings in reports to each of the three publishers today:

“I evaluated the sections of your product that are pertinent to my field of expertise – 19th century American history and U.S./Mexican relations during the early National period (i.e. topics 3-4 and parts of 5). I also reviewed the sections related to Mexican-American history during the 20th century. … Overall, I found coverage of… Read More

So what’s been happening in the controversial social studies textbook adoption in Texas? Since the State Board of Education’s first public hearing on the adoption in September and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s release of scholarly reviews of the proposed textbooks, publishers have been considering changes to their textbooks. Today the state board met to hear publishers tell them what they plan to do, and TFN has had a chance to review those changes.

In short, publishers are making some good changes to address the legitimate concerns noted by our scholars. They also appear to be resisting pressure from right-wing groups and activists to insert more distortions and bias, particularly more information reinforcing negative stereotypes of Muslims. But the news is far from all good. Many problems remain, especially textbook passages that exaggerate, and even invent, religious influences on the American founding. We just sent out this press release:

PUBLISHERS MAKE SOME CORRECTIONS, BUT PROBLEMS REMAIN IN TEXAS TEXTBOOK ADOPTION

Publishers Also Largely Appear to Be Resisting Demands from Extremists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 20, 2014

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund today applauded select… Read More