Creationist-Leaning Texas Sets Textbook Agenda

There is an excellent article at the Washington Monthly delving into the history of the Texas Board of Education shenanigans.

Part of its periodic review of its school textbooks, the Texas board has been revamping the curriculum in various subjects. The ongoing process, especially regarding science and social studies, has been ugly.

As Mariah Blake explains, what plays out in Texas is significant not only to Texans, but to parents of school-aged children across the country. Because of its steroid-enhanced textbook purchasing muscle, Texas remains the big dog in the Christian fundamentalist-led fight to sneak Jesus into public school education:

Until recently, Texas’s influence was balanced to some degree by the more-liberal pull of California, the nation’s largest textbook market. But its economy is in such shambles that California has put off buying new books until at least 2014. This means that McLeroy and his ultraconservative crew have unparalleled power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.

Make sure you read the article all the way to its creepy conclusion. 

Sadly, Texas is not the only place where folks strive to foster ignorance in their students.

While it’s been quiet there the past few months, Louisiana also continues to battle creationist attacks on the teaching of evolution. In 2008, state lawmakers passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which specifically targets “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as subjects in which educators are required to “promote critical thinking skills.” It also requires “supplemental materials” to be used alongside textbooks in public school science class. 

Of course, the state is an old hand at such tactics. In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Louisiana’s Balanced Treatment Act, which required creationism to be taught alongside evolution.

I’m headed to Louisiana tomorrow. While I will be primarily searching for incredible food, wonderful music and one of those ubiquitous drive-thru daiquiri stands, I’ll also be visiting with Barbara Forrest, the woman best known for irking the heck out of intelligent design advocates. Creationism’s Trojan Horse, the book she co-wrote with Paul Gross, details the statements of the movement’s leaders, providing inescapably clear evidence that the intelligent design movement is religiously motivated. A philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, Forrest also testified at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in which her testimony laid bare ID’s creationist roots.

One of the things we will most certainly discuss is what’s happening with Louisiana’s new law and its adoption process.

The Louisiana Family Forum, an affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, was behind efforts to adopt the law. To Forrest and other critics of the law, those supplemental materials smell like lucrative book sales for the Discovery Institute and other creationist and intelligent design organizations. This week, Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the state urging them to reconsider its policy.

Stay tuned.

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