Proposed Bill Favors Deeply Flawed Bible Curriculum in Texas Public Schools
Students Deserve Quality Materials, not Ideological Agendas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 7007
Proposed legislation directing Texas public schools to offer elective Bible classes appears to favor the developers of a deeply flawed and controversial curriculum, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.
House Bill 1287 by state Rep. Warren Chisum makes the Bible the textbook for such courses, an approach favored by the North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS). That provision would eliminate competition from a nationally marketed textbook from the Bible Literacy Project, as well as other curricula. The provision is similar to controversial legislation the NCBCPS helped draft and win passage for in Georgia last year.
“Bible courses are a wonderful way to teach students about the importance of religion in history and literature,” Miller said. “But students deserve quality instructional materials that are based on the best scholarship, not an ideological or religious agenda. Yet Rep. Chisum’s bill appears to favor a curriculum that fails that test.”
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has released two reports about public school Bible courses. The 2005 report revealed that the NCBCPS curriculum was plagued by shoddy research, plagiarism and a bias that favored one religious perspective Protestant fundamentalism over all others. Then in 2006, in the only study of its kind, the TFN Education Fund researched what every public school district in Texas teaches about the Bible.
The author of the reports, Dr. Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, found numerous problems with Bible courses in Texas public schools, including:
- a failure to meet minimal standards for teacher qualifications and academic rigor;
- the promotion of certain religious beliefs over all others; and
- advocating ideological agendas hostile to religious freedom, science and public education itself.
Among the most problematic courses were those based on the NCBCPS curriculum. The TFN Education Fund reports are available at http://www.tfn.org/religiousfreedom/biblecurriculum/.
The Texas Freedom Network has not yet spoken with Rep. Chisum about his bill but hopes to soon, Miller said.
“The study of the Bible deserves the same respect as the study of Huck Finn, Shakespeare and the Constitution,” she said. “We hope to work with Rep. Chisum to ensure that the Bible gets that respect in Texas public schools.”
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.