TFN Scores Partial Win for Transparency in Texas Textbook Adoption

For weeks we have been pushing the Texas Education Agency to release changes publishers are proposing in their responses to objections official reviewers have raised regarding their new science textbooks. It is simply unacceptable for the State Board of Education to adopt those new textbooks until Texans have a chance to see whether their children’s science instruction has been watered down because of demands from anti-science activists opposed to teaching about evolution and climate change.

This morning TEA sent out the following press release:

SBOE chair increases transparency in textbook adoption process

AUSTIN – In the interest of greater transparency during the current textbook adoption process, Barbara Cargill, chair of the State Board of Education, today announced she will ask publishers to voluntarily make public any additional content they are proposing for new instructional materials.

The board is in the process of adopting new materials for science for grades k-12, mathematics, k-8, and technology applications for use in Texas classrooms. A final vote on the submitted instructional materials will occur in November. But because of the increasing use of electronic content and the high interest in this adoption, Cargill will ask publishers to voluntarily make the new content available as quickly as possible.

As with the original instructional materials submitted for this adoption cycle, the new content will be available for review at the Texas Education Agency in Austin and at the 20 Education Service Centers around the state. Because of copyright protections, the material cannot be distributed to requesters but may be reviewed at those locations.

Currently, 429 instructional products are under review. Those approved by the board this fall will be available for use in Texas classrooms in the fall of 2014.

This is a step forward, and we applaud TEA staff members who worked to bring it about. But before folks get too excited, we should point out the obvious: suggesting that the SBOE should adopt textbooks before the public knows what is in them is simply ridiculous. Moreover, it’s still troubling that the only way the public will be able to view the textbook changes will be to go to the Texas Education Agency in Austin or one of the state’s 20 Education Service Centers. How many folks will be able to do that? Rest assured, TFN will do whatever is necessary to make sure publisher’s changes get reviewed by people who are qualified to evaluate them.

This all came about after TFN requested to see proposed changes from publishers. The argument we’ve been hearing is that publishers weren’t required to release their changes when the SBOE released the 2014 Proclamation calling for new science, math and technology applications textbooks. So, we’re told, it’s too late to require publishers to make their changes public before May 2014 — six months after their adoption.

This should never have been an issue. SBOE members should refuse to adopt textbooks from publishers who don’t give the public plenty of time to weigh in on changes before the November board meeting. Moreover, the SBOE should move quickly to ensure that publishers are required to make textbook changes public during the social studies adoption in 2014.

5 thoughts on “TFN Scores Partial Win for Transparency in Texas Textbook Adoption

  1. I will note, there’s at least one application for the iPhone that allows using the camera as a “scanner” to make PDFs; there’s likely probably something for Android phones as well. It’s well short of the quality of an actual flat-bed scanner; however, it’s an exceedingly handy way of making digital versions of paper documents, and rather more discrete than carrying about a laptop and portable/flatbed scanner.

    I’m not sure what the copyright issues would be for these materials. Obviously, TFN would not want to post any tests; however, I don’t think anything quite that sensitive is in this. For anything other than tests, might well prove a case of being easier to get absolution than permission.

  2. Thank you for keeping this alive. We must stop this travesty for Texas School Children.
    and others in the Nation. Science is science, and religion must not be its direction.

  3. Y’know, there are times I wonder about those people who think that the bible has all the answers. When it was written, people didn’t know zip about science. The dean of a prestigious religious seminary told me, “If anyone takes the first part of Genesis literally is in need of good psychological treatment. I couldn’t agree more if I tried.

    What is it with so many Texans? Can there possibly be so many mentally ill people?

    Once, while in a Christian bookstore (I sold text books but some were of interest to the Christian community) when a man came in, thought I was an employee and asked for “The bible that Jesus and the apostles read.” I looked up on the shelves, noticed that they didn’t have a Masoretic text so I grabbed a copy of the Septuagint (the Torah in Greek) because Jesus and the guys read Hebrew, Aramaic and/or Greek if they were literate.

    The old guy almost had a stroke. “What is this? It’s Greek to me. I want the Saint James Version with HOLY BIBLE on the front and Jesus talks in red.”

    I had to RUN out of the store because I didn’t want to embarrass the old boy. There are too danged many Texans who are just like that old guy. They have zero idea about the original languages or that there were botched “translations” from the original languages.

    When are Texans going to learn that the bible is NOT a book of science? It is the history of a people who are still with us. The laws pertain to them and their ethical monotheism is what civilized much of the world.

    It is too bad that those folks who want to accept some of those laws don’t follow ’em.