Earlier today the TFN Education Fund released an analysis of Senate Bill 6, a piece of legislation that was signed into law earlier this summer. SB 6 includes a provision that has received little attention from the general public, but that promises to have a considerable impact on what Texas children learn in public schools. SB also disarms the culture warriors on the State Board of Education by stripping them of some of their power to inject personal agendas and partisan politics into textbooks.
Below is the press release issued this morning. You can read the bill analysis here (PDF).
TFNEF Analysis: New Law Could Bring Sea Change to Textbook Adoptions in Texas
New Analysis Explains How SB 6 Could Disarm Culture Warriors on State Board of Education
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 9, 2011
The start of this new school year came with a new law that finally gives school districts the ability to reject politicized instructional materials adopted by the State Board of Education, the president of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund said today.
Senate Bill 6, passed by the Texas Legislature this summer, for the first time allows school districts to use state dollars to purchase textbooks and other instructional materials for core courses like history and science regardless of whether the State Board of Education has approved those materials.
“This law means local school districts will no longer be held hostage to the personal agendas of state board politicians when choosing instructional materials for their students,” TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said. “Schools will finally be able to say ‘no’ to politicized instructional materials when the state board forces publishers to censor or revise information simply because of personal or ideological objections.”
Gov. Rick Perry signed SB 6 into law on July 19. As the TFN Education Fund analysis of the legislation shows, the state board will continue to have the authority to review and formally approve textbooks and other instructional materials. In the past, school districts could use state dollars to purchase only instructional materials approved by the board. Now, however, school districts may purchase any instructional materials that help them teach to the state’s curriculum standards, even if the board has not approved those materials.
The analysis also notes various options that school districts might consider as they explore their new flexibility in purchasing instructional materials. Those options include working with other school districts and Education Service Centers to review materials proposed by publishers.
Adoptions of textbooks have long been heated battles in Texas. In 2001, for example, the State Board of Education rejected a proposed environmental science textbook because members objected to, among other things, passages on issues such as climate change and pollution. In 2007 state board members refused to give a reason when rejecting a third-grade mathematics textbook that some school districts were already using successfully in their classrooms. State board members have also sought to censor information on sex education in health textbooks, evolution in biology textbooks and slavery and civil rights in history textbooks.
The TFN Education Fund analysis is available at www.tfn.org/sb6Analysis.
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is a nonpartisan research and citizen education organization focusing on public education, religious freedom and civil liberties.