Tell textbook publishers to stand up to the Texas Taliban
The Texas Taliban — also known as the right-wing majority on the Texas State Board of Education — wants to revise the state's standards for science textbooks to require the addition of religious pseudoscience when teaching subjects like biology. And this isn't just bad news for Texas schoolchildren, because the Texas standards will impact the textbooks used by millions of students nationwide.
The Texas State Board of Education recently invited a small group of people to review the biology textbooks that will be used for the next eight years, starting in 2014. But more than half of the reviewers are right-wing religious ideologues,1 some of whom are even skeptics of Darwin's theory of evolution — considered one of the most reliably established facts in science, and a central tenet of biology.2
The ultimate goal of these sham textbook reviews — and Texas State Board of Education curriculum reform — is to enshrine right-wing ideology into Texas textbooks. What's worse, because of the scale of production of these textbooks, the dictates of the Texas School Board of Education will be included in textbooks used by millions of students in other states.
We can't let them get away with replacing long-accepted scientific principles with religious pseudoscience and propaganda.3
Tell textbook publishers to stand up to the Texas Taliban and only publish books that are based on sound, peer-reviewed science scholarship.
The most recent review of biology textbooks was a particularly egregious process, considering the people who were invited to participate. Here are just a few of the reviewers who are listed in the Creation Science Hall of Fame as “Darwin Skeptics”4:
• Raymond Bohlin, a research fellow for an organization whose purpose is the promotion of “intelligent design” — a religious idea which seeks to cast doubt on evolution while circumventing the Supreme Court ruling that bars the teaching of “creation science” in public schools.5
• Walter Bradley, who helped launch the “intelligent design” movement with a book he coauthored, titled The Mystery of Life's Origin.
• Ide Trotter, a wealthy funder of anti-science organizations, who has repeatedly participated in science textbook reviews advocating for the inclusion of scientifically discredited theories about the weaknesses of evolution.
Textbook publishers can refuse to make suggested changes, or pull out of the state's business altogether, just as publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston did in 1994, when Texas requested over 400 revisions in five health textbooks — including the removal of toll-free phone numbers for teenage suicide prevention groups.6
We're not going to change the minds of some of the theocrats elected to the Texas State Board of Education. But we can pressure publishers not to compromise their science textbooks by caving to the board's unreasonable demands.
The final review of these textbooks won't happen until November, and these textbooks could be in classrooms for a decade. Now's the time to put pressure on textbook publishers to stop accepting this scientifically debunked information.
Thank you for standing up for science.
1. Dan, "Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review." Texas Freedom Network, July 30, 2013.
2. National Research Council. "Science, Evolution, and Creationism." Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.
3. Gail Collins, "How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us." The New York Review of Books, June 21, 2012.
4. Jerry Bergman, "Darwin Skeptics." Creation Science Hall of Fame.
5. [PDF] Barbara Forrest, "Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals." The Center for Inquiry, May, 2007.
6. Gail Collins, "How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us." The New York Review of Books, June 21, 2012.