Sound Science Prevails in Texas Textbook Debate
The forces of science and sanity scored a partial victory on November 22, when the Texas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to fourteen new science textbooks that provide unqualified, unadulterated descriptions of both evolution and climate change. Texas’s SBOE has long been a warren of creationists and climate-change deniers eager to use their position to muddy the teaching of basic science in public schools—a serious problem, since the choices that get made in Texas, the second-largest textbook market in the country, end up influencing the larger textbook landscape.
Four years ago, the board passed new curriculum “standards” meant to force textbook companies to present weaker treatments of evolution and global warming. It followed up by trying to pack the textbook review teams with junk-science zealots. But thanks to organizing by groups like the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education, its scheme was foiled—mostly. After a last-ditch stand by creationists, the board agreed to send one biology textbook to a review board for further scrutiny.
Earlier this year, Rick Perstein wrote about the history of the “textbook wars.”