After nearly a week of debate, the Texas Board of Education rejected a number of proposed science textbooks for eighth graders on Friday. The Republican-majority board raised a range of concerns about seven of 12 proposed textbooks, most of which had to do with how the books presented the climate crisis.
Among the reasons the board rejected books: They had too much information about the climate crisis; they were published by companies with environmentally friendly policies; they portrayed fossil fuel use in an insufficiently positive light, potentially harming the state’s economy; and they included teachings about evolution but not creationism.
Certainly the decision is going to be cheered in some quarters. Earlier this week, Wayne Christian, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, the top regulator of the state’s oil and gas industry, railed against climate science, calling it the “woke environmental agenda” and urging the board to approve books that promote fossil fuels.
The proposed textbooks need to adhere to new standards that mandate eighth graders learn about the climate crisis. School districts in the state are not limited to using books approved by the board, but because all approved textbooks comply with state curriculum standards, they are often the books chosen, The Texas Tribune reports.
Marisa Perez-Diaz, a Democratic board member, summed up the potential influence of ideological and political dogma on education. “My fear is that we will render ourselves irrelevant moving forward when it comes to what publishers want to work with us and will help us get proper materials in front of our young people,” Perez-Diaz said at the meeting.
Conservatives have long pushed textbook publishers to present pseudoscientific concepts like “intelligent design” as equivalent to well-established scientific theories. But as we’ve seen in the past few years, Republican lawmakers are also waging a broader war on the humanities, passing legislation that prohibits a comprehensive teaching of race, gender and history in the U.S. and beyond.