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PUBLISHERS RESIST PRESSURE TO UNDERMINE EVOLUTION COVERAGE IN PROPOSED TEXAS SCIENCE TEXTBOOKS

Changes Submitted to Texas Education Agency Show No Retreat on Evolution

Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools.

“This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.”

Publishers submitted their proposed science textbooks for adoption in Texas last April. Last month State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, asked publishers to submit by Oct. 4 any changes they propose to meet objections to content raised by citizens appointed to review the textbooks. The Texas Education Agency made the publishers’ proposed changes available to the public on Oct. 11.

Some reviewers had criticized the proposed biology textbooks for failing to include a variety of discredited arguments attacking evolution. For example, reviewers lowered the rating of one textbook because it didn’t include the inaccurate claim that scientists have found no transitional fossils and that “the fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification.” Another reviewer insisted that all of the textbooks teach “creation science based on Biblical principles” alongside evolution.

Editorial changes from all 14 publishers that submitted high school biology textbooks for adoption this year do not reflect those arguments and beliefs, TFN’s examination shows.

The anti-evolution arguments promoted by the textbook reviewers are based on claims that scientists have shown to be false or simply have no place in a science textbook, said Arturo De Lozanne, associate professor in molecular cell and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“From what I can see so far, publishers are resisting pressure to do things that would leave high school graduates in Texas ill-prepared to succeed in a college science classroom,” De Lozanne said. “If we want Texas kids to be competitive nationally, we have to ensure that what they learn in their high school classrooms is based on facts, not ideology. Having said that, it’s remarkable and distressing that some folks are still arguing over what really is established, mainstream science.”

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on which science textbooks to adopt for Texas public schools at its November meeting. Most school districts will buy their textbooks from the state board’s list. The new textbooks could be in classrooms for nearly a decade, beginning in fall 2014.

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan public education and religious liberties watchdog based in Austin.

 

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