It’s increasingly clear that the Texas State Board of Education this summer will be ground zero — once again — in the religious right’s war on science. The newest indication of the pending battle comes from the website of Educational Research Analysts, one of the nation’s oldest textbook censorship organizations. The website shows that the East Texas-based group will target the scheduled adoption of science instructional materials by the Texas state board in July.
The religious-right outfit in Longview was founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler, who began pressuring publishers to censor their textbooks in the 1960s. The Gablers later turned their operation over to Neal Frey, who continues to run the shop. Here’s what the group’s website says about the upcoming science adoption:
In July, Texas will be approving supplemental high-school Biology materials for local adoption later this year. Of the online supplements up for Texas approval, we are examining submissions by Holt McDougal, Prentice Hall, and School Education Group (a McGraw-Hill division) to determine how well they conform to Biology standards, particularly Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills §112.34 (c)(3)(A).
Holt McDougal, Prentice Hall and School Education Group are three of the nation’s largest publishers of textbooks and other educational material. Many smaller vendors have also submitted materials for the science adoption in Texas.
Here is how standard §112.34 (c)(3)(A) reads:
(3) Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving to make informed decisions within and outside the classroom. The student is expected to:
(A) in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student (Emphasis added by TFN)
Creationists on the State Board of Education hope that standard — among others the board adopted in 2009 — will force publishers to include creationist arguments against evolution in their instructional materials. They adopted the standard after failing to win approval for a requirement that students learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution. They insist that creationist arguments are “scientific” and should be included in instructional materials under the requirement of “examining all sides of scientific evidence” (even though those arguments have no support in mainstream science).
The Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education have already identified at least one vendor that has submitted creationist materials for adoption by the Texas state board this summer. In addition, TFN Insider has reported that members of the state board’s far-right faction have succeeded in placing creationists on the teams that will review the proposed materials for science classes. Science materials approved by the state board will be available for use in Texas public schools this September.