Texas state board of education divided on climate change in textbooks

State flag of Texas.

The Texas state board of education conducted a hearing on science textbooks submitted for state adoption on August 29, 2023, and there were already signs that the treatment of climate change is going to be controversial. Questions from the board suggested "that the 15-member body — which has taken a rightward turn since 2021 — could make its decision along partisan lines," the Texas Tribune (August 29, 2023) reported.

The treatment of climate change in Texas's state science standards received the grade of F in a 2020 study from NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. Subsequently, as NCSE previously reported, the Texas state board of education voted in 2021, to adopt revised state science standards for kindergarten through the eighth grade that include climate change at the eighth-grade level — but not as accurately and thoroughly as was hoped.

Members of the board are now clearly divided. Marisa Perez-Diaz (D-District 3) told the Texas Tribune, "We absolutely should say humans do impact climate change," for example, while during the meeting, Will Hickman (R-District 6), who is employed as a lawyer by Shell Oil, "indicated that he'd advocate for instructional materials that do not include climate change solutions in science courses," according to the Texas Tribune.

As for the people most affected by the board's ultimate decision on the textbooks, the Texas Tribune observed, "Some educators, former teachers and education advocates are concerned that the political influence of the fossil fuel industry in Texas has prevented, and may continue to block, robust education on climate science ahead of the board's November vote on science instructional materials."

After the board's hearing, the Texas Freedom Network held a press conference in Austin, archived online, focusing on the textbook adoption process. Featured was the new report, "Grading the Textbooks," prepared by NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, which found that the science textbooks submitted for adoption in Texas are generally adequate when it comes to climate change and evolution.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.