What’s Happening with the Science Textbook Adoption?

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:

  • Review teams appointed by the SBOE include well-known advocates for creationism, as well as a number of people with no legitimate background or expertise in science. Those teams have submitted formal evaluations and feedback to textbook publishers.
  • We don’t know what feedback these review teams are giving to publishers because their meetings have not been accessible to the public, and no documents or correspondence have yet been turned over to TFN in response to our open records requests.
  • However, reports from various sources make us very suspicious that (1) at least some of those review team evaluations include suggestions that publishers water-down or censor instruction on evolution; and (2) the whole review process has been compromised by lack of qualified review teams participants, meddling by SBOE members and confusion about the basic rules governing the process.

We should have more information in the days ahead that will either confirm or allay these suspicions. Until then, science education advocates should be extremely nervous that this whole process is about to go off the rails — which seems to be a near inevitability in Texas, where we allow politicians to determine the content of our textbooks, rather than qualified scholars and educators who understand the subject matter.

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14 Comments

  1. Bill
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Dusty, you and your friend are right on the mark. I believe it is criminal what some teachers get away with and what some administers demand of teachers. I was a teacher for 30 years and worked with some very creative and competent teachers and administrators but basic teacher and administrative training is the culprit in this issue and must be seriously addressed if any progress is to be made. We must use our vote and our collective voices to root out the insanity in state and local government and their pandering to special interest groups when it comes to the education of our children. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Beverly Kurtin
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Glen Beck can sit in on the SBOE and decide what our kids can and cannot read. Of COURSE, I’m being facetious.

    I’m not a Christian of any stripe. Read “Zealot” by Reza Aslan. In it he make it abundantly clear that much of the NT is made up out of thin air. Paul wrote most of the books and he never even MET Jesus. It amuses me to this day that the funny-mentalists insist on taking the bible literally when they’ve not the foggiest idea what the original languages actually said.

    The first part of Genesis was made up to try to explain to a people who were barely out of the bronze age how we got here. Anyone who thinks that the world is 6,000 years old and that the deity made humans out of mud are in SERIOUS need of psychiatric (not psychological) help. The first true human beings, homosapiens, (oh! “homo?”) came from Africa. We EVOLVED.

    There is NO place for any religion to be mentioned in ANY text books, not even mine. Any member of the SBOE who want to spout religious though ought to get themselves a soap box and find a corner away from intelligent people and preach away, but stay out of the %$@# school books!

    It is a shame that the funny-mentalists refuse to get into the real world rather than attempting to proselytize children.

    I can’t wait for them to find that there is no hell…but there should be for them.

  3. Bryan
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I prefer having a text book based on facts and sound science in order to counter teachers who don’t bother opening the textbooks AND put up posters in their science classroom about the Paluxy “man tracks” and affix a hand-made label to the poster indicating that it is an example of a “theory” [true story].

    • Paul Cardwell
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      I recall the maker of that track (three-toed dinosaur and some chisel work) confessed several years ago. That poster isn’t even a good example of a hypothesis, much less a theory, but an adequate example of a blatant lie. I was spared that fake conflict because my father was not only a respected North Texas minister, but the discoverer of three Upper Cretaceous fossils. Most of the proto-scientists of the 18-19th century were clergy, doctors, or nobility because they had the flexible schedules to make time for research.

  4. doodlebugger
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Babs!

  5. Paul Cardwell
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Dusty: The main (legitimate) reason for textbooks is so that all teachers of that grade/subject are literally “on the same page” in their lesson plan. This is so kids transferring from another school will not be totally adrift in the new school. Other than that not insignificant detail, I agree with you.

    This was a major plank in my platform when I filed against the previous leader of the flat-earth faction in 2010. Ironically he was defeated in the Republican primary by Mr. Ratliff, now the leader of the pro-science faction. Democrats didn’t care enough either way to even file a candidate in 2010 or 2012 in District 9. I ran as a Green and so was never mentioned in the corporate media. Hooray for the League of Women Voters, the only source of public information on elections these days.

    • Ryan
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Hooray for the League of Women Voters, indeed. But TFN is also a source of public information on SBOE elections. We publish an SBOE voter guide that details candidates’ positions on pertinent issues every two years (including 2010: http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/c_final_SBOE_flyer_FINAL.pdf?docID=1981).

      • Paul Cardwell
        Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        I am quite aware of this; it is one of my more valuable sources. Unfortunately, it is essentially a private medium that the general public either knows nothing about, or is too lazy to make the effort to sign up. Indeed, I only found out about it as a candidate in 2010 and thank you for it. On the other hand, LWV has their material inclosed in newspapers and free for the taking at most public libraries, making it a public medium.

  6. Charles
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Oppose Christian fundamentalism in all of its forms. Tell Babs Cargill and the whole bunch that we resent her attempts to use the public schools system in Texas to indoctrinate our children with her silly religious beliefs. Our children are going to remain mainline Christians, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and whatever else—and there is not a damned thing in the world that she can do about it.

  7. Charles
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Well, it will be really interesting to see what Babs Cargill and the Discovery Institute have dreamed up this time. I feel sure that there is some PR strategy that was hatched and planned for many months and is being set in motion behind the scenes. I have four words for Babs Cargill:

    U.S. District Court

    That flushing sound you here is the whole plan going down the drain when a nonfundamentalist parent files suit against creationism in Texas K-12 learning materials. I am hoping that Babs will get the same treatment the school board and adminisitrators did in my public school system in Tennessee. The ruling was: “No more religion in your public schools. If you even so much as whisper it, it will be contempt of court and prison time.” The judge really meant it too.

  8. Posted August 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    A high school biology teacher friend of mine posted this on her Facebook, and I thought she had some good points. Even though, we should definitely keep Creationists out of textbooks to begin with.

    “Oh gosh. Textbooks are a joke. Every teacher should have the proper training to already know how to present the information and where to find the information to support the state standards and objectives. So why use a textbook if we should already have all these trained professionals? Dang lazy teachers. I’ve never used a textbook in my regular classes. If I need to refresh on something, hey there’s something called the internet! Don’t need to spend millions on a textbook. It does take a long time to prepare engaging and thought-provoking lessons, but it’s so worth it. Why should the textbook be in charge of how the class is run? Freaking teachers need to take responsibility and step up, do some actual work, and care for the students, not for the test score. Great thing is I don’t teach to the test at all, I barely make it through the required curriculum in-between the things I think are more important, yet my students score above the state average on end of levels. It drives me insane when a teacher complains they don’t have new textbooks and they are at a disadvantage. Bull crap, just make your own dang curriculum like you should. I know how crazy each board of education is for each state, but that doesn’t determine how you run your individual class. Bunch of complainers.”

  9. Karen Seal
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    The Texas Taliban has its tentacles on our textbooks changing history and science to fit their ungodly beliefs.

    • Beverly Kurtin
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m a fan of alliterations. Texas Taliban! There is no way I can beat that, thanks.

  10. Ed Silha
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    The review material should be available to the public. However, it may be more expedient to request copies from the publishers.

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