Texas' State Board of Education no longer has the stranglehold on textbooks it did a dozen years ago, when it forced an environmental science textbook to include skeptical language on global warming, or four years ago, when an attempt to slip creationist language into science books sparked a national uproar, or three years ago, when their social studies curriculum stressed the Christian beliefs guiding the Founding Fathers. The textbook market has changed, with local districts now having the freedom to opt out of SBOE-approved textbooks and the Common Core curriculum displacing Texas as the dominant force in deciding what goes into the nation's textbooks.
That's not to say the battle is over. The Texas Freedom Network, the longtime SBOE watchdog, released documents yesterday from the textbook review process showing that social conservatives have not given up on their push to promote creationism and cast doubt on evolution.
The organization predicted that this might happen, ringing alarm bells in July when they noticed that the textbook review panels included a number of avowed creationists.
One reviewer, critiquing textbooks from Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, and Scientific Minds, wrote this:
I understand the National Academy of Science's [sic] strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that 'creation science' based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.
While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the 'creation model' based on the Biblical view of history.
Another reviewer wrote this in response to a Glencoe/McGraw-Hill text suggesting there is fossil evidence for evolution:
Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered. The fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification. Text should ask students to analyze and compare alternative theories. The statement that there are hundreds of thousands of transitional fossils is simply not true. Moreover, those fossils that are considered transitional are often subjects of disagreement among biologists.
And here's reviewer Ray Bohlin objecting to climate change information provided in a Pearson/Prentice-Hall text:
We don't really know that the carbon Cycle [sic] has been altered.
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In reality we don't know what climate change will do to species diversity. ... Question seems to imply that ecosystems will be disrupted which qwe [sic] simply don't know yet.
Needless to say, most of their objections are to theories that have wide acceptance among scientists. Their suggested additions do not.
According to the Texas Freedom Network, the Texas Education Agency declined to release documents showing what changes textbook publishers made in response to the critiques until a public hearing scheduled for September 17.