PRESS RELEASE November 10, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact -- Ide Trotter
Texans for Better Science Education
State Board of Education Votes Unanimously to Adopt All Books and Correct Factual Errors
Turns Down Efforts to Identify Better Books
AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA – In an important step forward for good science, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) voted unanimously Friday to require all textbook publishers to correct all remaining factual errors as a condition of adoption. These errors have been identified by various groups over the past few months, including Texas Education Agency (TEA) textbook review panels, the Discovery Institute, the Mel Gablers/Educational Research Analysts organization, Texans for Better Science Education (TBSE), Texas A&M University and numerous scientists, educators, parents, and other concerned citizens who testified at the two public hearings.
Prior to this vote, an amendment was submitted by SBOE member David Bradley, and supported by members Gail Lowe, Terri Leo, and Don McLeroy. The amendment would have put all biology books EXCEPT the regular biology books submitted by publishers Holt and Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, on the ‘non-conforming’ list for failure to meet state standards. Had the amendment passed, all books would still have been available to all school districts. However, it would have made it easier for Texas’ independently run school districts (ISDs) to distinguish the Glencoe and Holt texts as being closer to meeting the full intent of the textbook standards, particularly in the area of teaching both ‘strengths and weaknesses’ of evolutionary theory. The ISDs select the books they want to use, but the state of Texas pays for them, whether on the conforming or non-conforming lists.
During the debate, several members of both parties expressed interest in recent reports of errors remaining in the books, and seemed pleased that the TEA will be correcting them as a condition of purchasing the books. Mrs. Terri Leo also read the language of the ‘Santorum Language’ of the No Child Left Behind Act into the record, which states in part that, “Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.”
The amendment to help ISDs distinguish which books are better failed 11-4.
With that effort falling short, the vote turned to the full textbook adoption report, which included all of the biology books and dozens more unrelated subject books. That report, which included provisions to correct remaining factual errors, passed on a unanimous voice vote.
While the SBOE did not explicitly require publishers to insert well known profound scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theories into the books, TBSE spokesman Dr. Ide Trotter was very encouraged by the progress, and applauded Robert Scott, Deputy Director of the Texas Education Agency, “…for assuring the State Board of Education that publishers will be required to address remaining factual errors before a book is put into the hands of students.” A TBSE volunteer noted, “This is a victory for all students of Texas, because hundreds of factual errors are finally being addressed.” Discovery Institute’s President Bruce Chapman said that the, “Texas [Education Agency] has pledged to make sure that publishers address all remaining errors in the textbooks over the next several months” and that, “we now hope that fake facts like human embryos with 'gill slits,' the flat earth myth, and overstatements about peppered moth research will be things of the past as well."
Numerous corrections of factual errors and editorial changes on a variety of subjects are being addressed this year. While much work remains, these promising steps are in the right direction. Texas students will be the better for it.
Additional data will be posted on the TBSE website soon.
Texans for Better Science Education is a group of concerned Texas citizens who support the right of all students to learn about both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in conformance with Texas law as well as the right of all teachers to the academic freedom to teach without censorship and intimidation from any pressure groups.
TBSE has a website at www.strengthsandweaknesses.org