Texas forebodings: textbooks and science standards

At http://bbsnews.net/article.php/20071116203449844 :

Texas Education Board Illegally Censoring School Textbooks

Friday, November 16 2007 @ 08:34 PM EST

Edited by: Michael Hess

Texas State Board of Education Does End Run Around Anti-Censorship Law, Church and State Watchdog Group Says

BBSNews 2007-11-16 — (TFN) AUSTIN – The president of the Texas Freedom Network today called on the state attorney general to demand that the State Board of Education stop violating a law that prevents board members from censoring public school textbooks.

According to this report:

Earlier today, the state board voted to reject a proposed mathematics textbook for third grade. Board members who voted to reject that textbook refused to give reasons for doing so. They claimed that the board is not required to say why it rejects any textbook. Yet under a law passed by the Legislature in 1995, Senate Bill 1, the state board may reject a textbook only if it fails to cover the state’s curriculum standards, has factual errors, or fails to meet manufacturing requirements. Subsequent opinions from two state attorneys general – a Democrat and a Republican – have upheld those limits on the board’s ability to control textbook content. [emphasis added]

(Much of the information in the story linked above is in an AP report posted by the Houston Chronicle. I cannot see who the “BBS news service” is, and I haven’t found anyplace else the quotes, etc., in their story that are not included in the AP item. From their dateline, it appears that BBSnews received information directly from TFN.)

Although the specific textbooks involved this time were in elementary mathematics, the broader concern here is that, if the Board is allowed to get away with rejecting textbooks without any explanation, they could use that practice to censor textbooks for ideological reasons in controversial areas such as teaching about evolution in biology.

As reported by The Texas Observer:

Texas defenders of science are in heightened vigilance mode because the board will spend 2008 overhauling the state’s curriculum standards. That means we’re likely to have to endure another pique of anti-evolution fervor from the creationists on the board, led by new chairman Don McLeroy, a fundamentalist Christian and Republican who has boldly declared that he does not share “a common ancestor with a tree.” (I’m sure the tree feels the same way.)


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