The aftermath of Texas's disappointing vote on science textbooks

A stack of textbooks.

After the Texas state board of education's vote on science textbooks approved for use in the state's public schools at its November 17, 2023, meeting — which was, as NCSE previously reported, apparently influenced by the board's misguided objections to evolution and climate change — there was a chorus of condemnation around the state and across the country.

A columnist for the Houston Chronicle (November 17, 2023) complained that the board's vote was mortifying, adding, "An embarrassment-free approval of science textbooks would have been nice, but the real tragedy will come when our kids open those censored textbooks. We owe them a better education and a brighter future."

"It's certainly still possible for Texas' students to get a sound scientific education in general and in regard to [evolution and climate change]," NCSE's Deputy Director Glenn Branch told the Austin American-Statesman (November 21, 2023). "It's just going to be despite of the Texas State Board of Education."

Imelda Mejia of the Texas Freedom Network told Houston Public Media (November 21, 2023) that "it's pretty clear to us that a number of these textbooks were rejected because the board pressured publishers to make changes based on their own political objections around how they talked about oil and gas companies."

Likewise, the San Antonio Express-News (November 23, 2023) editorially observed, "It's painfully obvious that the SBOE's opposition to seven of the 12 proposed science textbooks was due to politics and religion." The editorial cited the report from NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund on the treatment of climate change in state science standards.

NCSE's Glenn Branch not only provided data on the vote for Agence France-Presse's story (November 24, 2023) but also put the vote into national context: "Despite the setbacks in Texas, Branch, of the NCSE, says climate change education across the country 'is generally improving.'" He added, "That's partly because it's starting from a very low level."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.