Creationism and climate change denial on display in Texas committee meeting

A stack of textbooks.

Members of the Texas state board of education criticized textbooks for not including alternative views on the Big Bang, the origin of life, evolution (to which creationism was explicitly mentioned as a supposed alternative), and climate change.

The criticisms came during a committee of the whole meeting held on November 14, 2023. The committee was making preliminary decisions on whether to retain or remove textbooks from a list of instructional materials approved by the state.

The committee voted to remove textbooks from Accelerated Learning, Discovery Education, EduSmart, Green Ninja, and McGraw-Hill from the list of approved textbooks after discussions in which evolution and/or climate change was misrepresented as scientifically controversial.

Similarly targeted, but surviving the committee's vote, were two textbooks from Savvas. The committee also voted to remove a number of further textbooks from the list of approved textbooks without any objection to their treatment of evolution and/or climate change.

In contrast, "Grading the Textbooks," the recent report from NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, found that the treatment of evolution and climate change in the textbooks generally conformed to the state science standards.

The meeting was in the news even before it commenced, with the Austin American-Statesman (November 14, 2023) accurately predicting controversy over the treatment of evolution and climate change in the textbooks.

NCSE's Deputy Director Glenn Branch told the newspaper that although Texas is no longer as influential in the textbook market as it once was, "it's still true that what happens in Texas doesn't stay in Texas."

The committee's vote was only preliminary. The final decision about what science textbooks will be approved for use in the science classrooms of Texas's public schools will be made by the full board of education during its meeting on November 17, 2023.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.