This year’s sweeping win for science education in Texas now appears to be complete.
Multiple sources tell us that a special expert panel has given unanimous approval to the Pearson biology textbook whose adoption by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) last month had been tripped up by allegations that it contained “factual errors.”
A creationist on the panel that reviewed the Pearson textbook last summer had claimed that there were nearly two dozen “factual errors” in the product. Pearson and the textbook’s authors flatly rejected those claims in a detailed rebuttal and refused to make changes. Pearson’s textbook is widely used throughout the nation’s high schools.
At its November meeting, the SBOE voted to adopt all of the high school biology textbooks proposed for Texas public schools, including the Pearson product. However, SBOE members made the Pearson textbook adoption contingent on a final review of the alleged “errors” by a panel of experts.
SBOE member Sue Melton, R-Waco, appointed University of Texas biologist Arturo De Lozanne and SBOE member Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, chose SMU anthropologist Ron Wetherington to serve on the expert review panel. SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, appointed Vincent Cassone, chair of the University of Kentucky Biology Department.
A Texas Education Agency (TEA) spokesperson told us that it has forwarded the panel’s report to Pearson. TEA won’t release the report publicly until Pearson has had a chance to review it, but our sources said all three panelists dismissed the claims of factual errors and recommended no changes to the textbook.
The panel’s approval of the Pearson textbook essentially marks the end of efforts by anti-evolution activists to hijack this year’s science textbook adoption. Throughout the process, they and their board allies — including Cargill — tried to pressure publishers into watering down and distorting the science on evolution and climate change. They failed completely when publishers resisted their pressure while TFN, the National Center for Science Education and other science education advocates rallied support for the textbooks.
We will post the official Pearson review panel report once TEA makes it available.