Texas School Board Adopts Accurate Biology Books, Rebuffing Last-Ditch Campaign By Creationists

This afternoon, the Texas State Board of Education gave its final approval to a set of biology textbooks that include scientifically sound teachings about evolution, rebuffing a campaign by creationists to include “biblical principles” in science texts. However, the board delayed its approval of one of the books until a board of experts reviews the complaints of anti-evolutionists.

The Texas Freedom Network, which has been fighting to keep science in the state’s science textbooks, called the vote a “huge win for science education” and noted that “throughout the adoption process, publishers refused to make concessions that would have compromised science instruction on evolution and climate change in their textbooks.” People For the American Way joined TFN earlier this year to deliver 300,000 petitions to the school board urging them to reject attempts to insert creationism into science texts.

Creationists on the school board, in a last-ditch attempt to delay the process, are still holding up one biology book. TFN reported yesterday:

The adoption of the Pearson textbook was held up because an anti-evolution activist appointed to serve as an official state reviewer alleged that it included nearly two dozen factual errors. Some of the alleged “errors” focused on relatively small and almost trivial details — such as whether scientists estimate the age of Earth as 4 billion or 4.2 billion years old. But most dealt with evolution or related concepts and essentially repeated many discredited claims anti-evolution activists have been pushing for decades.

One Republican school board member accused his anti-evolution colleagues of attempting to “hijack” the process by causing the last-minute delay, according to the AP:

Pearson and many other major publishers weren't willing to make suggested major edits and changes, however.

That prompted some of the board's socially conservative members to call for delaying approval of the book because of concerns including how long it took Earth to cool and objection to lessons about natural selection because "selection operates as a selective but not a creative force."

Members outside the socially conservative bloc claimed their colleagues waited until the dead of night to try to impose ideological edits.

"To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant.

He added: "I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes."

On Wednesday, an oil and gas industry representative objected to another science textbook’s treatment of the harms of fracking and carbon emissions; she gained some allies on the board, but the board ultimately approved the text.

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