There has been blog chatter for months about problems brewing in Texas. The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has a team of “experts” who are currently reviewing science textbooks which will be adopted statewide. The only public hearing on the books is scheduled for September 17, and the SBOE will have its vote on approving or rejecting textbooks in November.
We’ve been avoiding the subject because we were unable to find any stories about this in any of the newspapers we regularly scan, and we generally avoid reporting what blogs are saying. But now there’s an article at the website of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) — Textbooks under attack in Texas. They say, with some bold font added by us:
Ideologues on official state textbook review teams are attacking the treatment of evolution and climate change in science textbooks under consideration in Texas, charged the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education in a joint press release issued on September 9, 2013. “Once again culture warriors on the state board are putting Texas at risk of becoming a national laughingstock on science education,” TFN’s president Kathy Miller warned.
Here’s the press release NCSE and TFN jointly issued: TEXAS REVIEWERS PRESSURE PUBLISHERS ON EVOLUTION, CLIMATE CHANGE. We’ll get to that, but for now we’ll stay with NCSE. They tell us:
As the press release explains, documents obtained by the TFN show “that reviewers made ideological objections to coverage related to evolution and climate change in textbooks from at least seven publishers, including several of the nation’s biggest publishing houses. Failing to obtain a review panel’s top rating makes it harder for publishers to sell their textbooks to school districts or can even lead the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject the textbook altogether.”
There’s a lot at stake. Not only is Texas one of the biggest customers for textbooks (if not the biggest), but books written for them are often adopted by other states. Publishers don’t want to have different versions of their books for each state. Let’s read on:
“The arguments in these reviews are the same discredited claims anti-science activists have pushed for years,” commented NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau. Among those claims, various reviewers:
We’ll give you only the list of creationist demands:
• called for the inclusion of “‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles”
• asserted that “no transitional fossils have been discovered”
• promoted a book touting “intelligent design” creationism as a reliable source of scientific information
• denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms
• mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as “discredited” and as “fabrication[s]”
Impressive, huh? This is from the press release:
SBOE members nominated the evolution deniers serving on the review teams. Most of the critics are not biologists or even scientists. They include a College Station dietician, an Austin systems engineer and a retired Dallas businessman with a background in finance.
Some of the country’s most prominent evolution deniers are also on the review teams. They include Ide Trotter, a retired chemical engineer who has served as a spokesperson for a Texas creationist group; Walter Bradley, a retired professor of engineering at Baylor University who wrote a founding text of “intelligent design” creationism; and Ray Bohlin, vice president for Probe Ministries, a Plano-based evangelical Christian ministry that rejects evolution. Bradley and Bohlin are also fellows with the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based institutional home of the “intelligent design” creationism movement.
So there you are. Things are very sick in Texas. Will the publishers cave in to the pressure? We’ll be watching.
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