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:
- Initial drafts of science textbooks and instructional materials have an uncensored, robust discussion of evolution without any promotion of creationism or intelligent design.
- 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.
- The only (currently announced) public hearing at the SBOE on proposed science materials is scheduled for September 17-20. (Click here if you would like to provide testimony and attend TFN’s Stand Up for Science Rally that week.)
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.