Texas Biology Textbook Adoption

State Board of Education-Discovery Institute "Error Correction" Censorship Attempt, December 2003-February 2004

  • New Texas Textbook Censorship Attempt by the State Board of Education and Discovery Institute. An investigation by Texas Citizens for Science describes the abuse of the Texas textbook adoption process by anti-evolutionists who wish to damage biology textbooks by intimidating national textbook publishers. February 18, 2004
  • Texas Citizens for Science Press Release for the February 26 press conference in Austin. February 24, 2004
  • Texas Citizens for Science February 23, 2004 Letter to SBOE Chairman Geraldine Miller describing Don McLeroy's unscrupulous activities for the previous two months, explaining why these are unethical and perhaps illegal, and asking for his resignation among other requests.
  • Copy of Eugene Rios' December 12, 2003 Email Message to Biology Textbook Publishers requiring corrections of "factual errors, editorial changes and corrections that your were required to make."
  • Copy of Eugene Rios' December 19, 2003 Email Message to Biology Textbook Publishers following-up his previous one, asking them to be sure to respond to errors identified by the Discovery Institute, whose name had been omitted from the Dec. 12 message.
  • Copy of Don McLeroy's January 8, 2004 Email Message to Biology Textbook Publishers (sent on Jan. 12) telling them that their "cooperation" in correcting Discovery Institute-identified errors forwarded to them in the December 19 Memorandum (Rios Dec. 19 email message) is "required."
  • Frank Mayo's February 1, 2004 Email Message to the Katy ISD Board telling them that some of the biology books may not "be approved for use in Texas" because they still contain "factual errors" "related to the way evolution is presented."
  • Concerned Scientists Protest Bush Administration's Misuse of Science More than 60 influential United States scientists, including two dozen Nobel Laureates, have signed a statement claiming that the Bush Administration has systematically distorted scientific facts in the service of political policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research, and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad. February 18, 2004
Biology Textbook Hearings

November 6-7, 2003, State Board of Education Meeting

Documents Relevant to Important SBOE Votes

  • Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm, filed a First Amendment lawsuit on October 30 against Texas State Board of Education members, charging that their November 2001 decision to reject an environmental science textbook for use in public high schools constitutes censorship in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Texas Citizens for Science Applauds Trial Lawyers for Public Justice The TLPJ lawsuit against the Texas SBOE will have a beneficial effect on future textbook adoptions by making it clear that irrational and illegal adoption decisions have serious consequences.
  • An Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education by Sahotra Sarkar, signed by 136 University of Texas at Austin professors, mostly scientists, who urge the Texas State Board of Education to reject attempts made by individuals and groups such as the Discovery Institute to inject false or misleading materials into the textbooks.
  • How should schools teach evolution? by Alfred Gilman. Open letter signed by 17 North Texas scientists, all members of either the National Academy of Science or National Institute of Medicine, including four Nobel Laureates. All ask the State Board of Education to render a decision based solely on whether the texts are scientifically accurate, and not capitulate to outside organizations that are trying to insert scientifically-inaccurate "weaknesses" into the biology books.
  • National Center for Science Education Response to the Discovery Institute's press releases regarding Texas biology textbook changes. NCSE explains that the publishers' changes were minor and did not weaken or distort the textbooks' presentation of evolution in the way that the Discovery Institute wished. Instead, the biology texts continue to present evolution and evolutionary theory in a scientifically-accurate manner.
  • Virtual Charter Schools are Anti-Science A new push by religious-activist William Bennett to sell the concept of virtual charter schools in Texas will have anti-science implications. Bennett's K-12 curriculum is religious-based and plans to misrepresent evolution.
  • TCS Testimony to SBOE Planning Committee on Virtual Charter Schools Texas Citizens for Science opposes the virtual charter school proposal for many reasons, but primarily because it intends to use a curriculum that will misrepresent evolution and science.
  • TCS Responds to SBOE Members Don McLeroy and Teri Leo who have repeatedly and deliberately distorted the scientific issues in their letters to the Houston Chronicle about biology textbook adoption.
  • SBOE Member Don McLeroy's Contemptible Strategy to play one publisher against the others in a cynical attempt to damage the biology textbooks by weakening their evolution content.
  • 550+ Texas Scientists, Teachers Agree on Teaching Evolution "As scientists and teachers who live and work in Texas, we write to urge the Texas State Board of Education to choose only textbooks that present accepted, peer-reviewed science and pedagogical expertise. We believe that such a process leads to strong curricula of the highest quality, accuracy, and pedagogical appropriateness." (more). Signed by more than 550 Texas scientists. (Document will download and open as a PDF file)
  • University of Texas at Austin Professors David Hillis and Martin Poenie write a letter to the SBOE telling its members that they "believe that all of the books conform to the TEKS standards and should be approved and placed on the conforming list of textbooks."
September 10, 2003, SBOE Textbook Hearing Documents

Testimony to the Texas State Board of Education by TCS Members

  • Written Testimony prepared by evolutionary scientist Steven Schafersman includes commentary on the Texas science textbook adoption process and his scientific analysis of the Discovery Institute's "Preliminary Analysis" of biology textbooks. This testimony will be presented on September 10 in Austin at the public hearing before the State Board of Education.
  • Complete Written Testimony of TCS President Steven Schafersman is the complete Word version of his written testimony sent to each member of the Texas State Board of Education prior to the September 10 hearing. This 70-page Word document includes (1) the commentary and scientific analysis linked above, (2) the review "Texans for Better Science Education: The True Story!," linked below, and (3) Alan Gishlick's 37-page detailed analysis, also linked below, of creationist Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution. (This link will download the document as a 782 KB DOC file.)
  • Written Testimony and preliminary TSELA position statement prepared by Barbara ten Brink, PhD, Austin ISD Science Specialist.
  • Written Testimony of TCS member Wendee Holtcamp, a former college science instructor, now a freelance writer and photographer in Houston, Texas.
  • Oral Testimony of Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Oral Testimony of Steven Schafersman, President of Texas Citizens for Science.
  • Oral Testimony of Robert Dennison, President of Texas Association of Biology Teachers.
  • Final Comments to the State Board of Education by Steven Schafersman, summarizes the evidence and arguments to not censor the biology textbooks to be adopted this cycle. Schafersman urges the State Board to make the education of Texas school students their first priority and not mess with textbooks.

The Houston Chronicle has published several op-ed columns, letters, and articles about the Texas biology textbook adoption controversy, including an op-ed column by TCS President Steven Schafersman in response to anti-evolutionists of the Discovery Institute and the State Board of Education. Contains Teri Leo's and Don McLeroy's anti-scientific letters and the TCS's reasoned replies that reveal their unethical distortions and misrepresentations of evolutionary theory.

Updated Preliminary Recommendations for Instructional Materials by the Texas Education Agency Biology Textbook Review Panel contains their analysis that all eleven of the submitted biology textbooks are conforming to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and thus can be adopted without revision. (This link will download the document as a one-page DOC file.)

TEA Textbook Adoption Hearing Materials: Official Texas Education Agency webpage, contains written testimony, transcripts of oral testimony, handouts, and other valuable materials.

Joint NCSE-TCS Press Release for the September 10 State Board of Education public hearing. Authors Say "Don't Mess With Textbooks!"; Scientists And Teachers Say "Don't Mislead Students!" (will download as a PDF file).

Statement on Evolution in Textbooks by authors of all biology textbooks being considered for adoption in Texas. "We deplore the efforts made in some states and districts to require that evolution be disclaimed."

Texans for Better Science Education: The True Story! A thrilling exposť of the new Spring, Texas, creationist website that serves as a front for the Greater Houston Creation Association. The TBSE pretends to be for better science education in Texas by only asking for "weaknesses" and "criticisms" to be put into high school biology textbooks, but would really like much more. TBSE says some naughty things about Texas Citizens for Science.

TABT President's Alert and Talking Points for Texas Teachers One-page letter from Texas Association of Biology Teachers President Robert Dennison plus Talking Points (will download as a PDF file).

TABT-NCSE Talking Points for Texas Teachers Talking Points only (will download as a PDF file).

Newspaper Articles about the September 10 Hearing

July 9, 2003, SBOE Textbook Hearing Documents

Written Testimony to the Texas State Board of Education by TCS Members

  • Testimony of TCS President Steven Schafersman.
  • Testimony of TCS member Edwin Darrell, attorney and former Director of Information Services at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Press Release prepared for the TCS press conference in Austin on July 9.

Texas Textbook Adoption An historical analysis of science textbook adoption in Texas from the TCS viewpoint prepared by Steven Schafersman, TCS President.

Initial News Story by Steven Schafersman about the Discovery Institute's attempt to chage science textbooks in Texas by asking the Texas State Board of Education to compel the addition of "weaknesses" and "criticisms" of evolution during the biology textbook adoption process.

Talking Points for the Public Hearing of the Texas State Board of Education Prepared on July 5 by the National Center for Science Education staff using Alan Gishlick's "Icons of Evolution?" (linked below).

TEA • Transcript of July 9 Public Hearing (This link will download the document as a PDF file.)

TEA • Comments from July 9 Public Hearing (This link will download the document as a PDF file.)

TEA • Publishers' Responses to Testimony and Written Comments from the July 9 Public Hearing (This link will download the document as a PDF file.)

Useful Links

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm, filed a First Amendment lawsuit on October 30 against Texas State Board of Education officials, charging that their November 2001 decision to reject an environmental science textbook for use in public high schools constitutes censorship in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Academic Intelligent Design Controversy: William Dembski and Baylor University Compilation of reports, essays, articles, and reviews of the 2000 controversy about the formation of the Baylor University Michael Polanyi Center for intelligent design studies and its ultimate dissolution amd Dembski's demotion.

FAQs about the textbook adoption controversy in Texas Questions and answers about the players, organizations, issues, and agendas of the evolution v. creation controversy in Texas.

Censorship of Evolution in Texas The original 1982 article in Issue 10 of Creation/Evolution by then Texas Council for Science Education President Steven Schafersman publicly revealing for the first time the tremendous extent of censorship of the topic of evolution in biology textbooks used in Texas and the United States; as he explains, the culprits were members of the Texas State Board of Education. Read this for a feeling of "deja vu all over again." Some things just never change.

Find Your State Board of Education Member Use this page to identify and communicate with your State Board of Education member.

Texas Texts Reignite Evolution Debates by Julia C. Keller, Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology.

A Textbook Case of Bad Science by Salon.com writer Katharine Mieszkowski. "Defenders of evolutionary theory in Texas say creation scientists are getting sneakier -- and more successful -- in getting their views into public school educational materials."

Significant Court Decisions of the Evolution-Creation Controversy in America A collection of nine major decisions by federal and state courts that have repeatedly ruled against creationist attempts to force their religious doctrines into public schools in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Texas SAT Scores Still Near Bottom High school students across the nation averaged the highest scores in years on the most recent round of SAT testing, but Texas continues to rank near the bottom.

San Angelo Standard Times Biology Textbook Controversy Letter Exchange

Holt, Rinehart and Winston Biology Textbook Changes Criticized

TCS Letter to Holt, Rinehart and Winston President Judith Fowler from TCS President Steven Schafersman detailing concerns about Holt's biology textbook changes.

Evolution: What It Is and What It Isn't Report on the Montgomery County College Evolution Symposium.

Science Educational Society Position Statements

Websites That Reveal the Truth About the Discovery Institute

  • Texas Citizens for Science Responds to Latest Discovery Institute Challenges The Discovery Institute found 24 Texas university academics willing to support the misguided effort to insert bogus "weaknesses" about evolution into biology textbooks. Then, they found 40 Texas "scientists" willing to openly criticize the modern theory of evoluton. TCS President Steven Schafersman responds to the DI press releases, open letter, and statement and reveals the faulty logic that supports the DI (wedge) strategy and the true reasons behind it.
  • News stories exposing the true goals and financial supporters of the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Washington Articles about Howard Ahmanson, Phillip Johnson, Bruce Chapman, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Ray Bohlin, and others who make a very good living working as nonsense purveyors, superstition mongers, and pseudoscience peddlers for the Discovery Institute. See also the Wedge Strategy below.
  • Wedge Strategy The Discovery Institute-Center for Science and Culture's strategy to "wedge" Intelligent Design Creationism -- as an alternative to evolution and other "materialistic explanations" of science -- into the realm of public discourse, popular science, and "public school science curricula." They intend to do this quickly by using marketing, popularization, and political techniques, not by using the traditional and legitimate methods of scientific investigation and publication that scientists must follow.
  • A Preliminary Analysis of the Treatment of Evolution in Biology Textbooks currently being considered for adoption by the Texas State Board of Education. The Discovery Institute-Center for Science and Culture's written testimony submitted to the Texas State Board of Education for the biology textbook adoption hearing. This written testimony is derived from the book Icons of Evolution by anti-evolutionist Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute. (This link will download the document as a PDF file.)

Websites That Analyze and Critique Creationist Pseudoscience and Pseudoscholarship

  • Icons of Evolution? Why much of what Jonathan Wells writes about evolution is wrong. The most detailed, complete, and referenced analysis and refutation of Icons of Evolution, written by Alan D. Gishlick, Postdoctoral Scholar at the National Center for Science Education.
  • Icon of Obfuscation Jonathan Wells' book Icons of Evolution and why most of what it teaches about evolution is wrong. A thorough analysis and critique by Nic Tamzek (Nicholas Matzke), graduate student in the UC-Santa Barbara Geography Department, with contributions by noted scientists whose own work was misrepresented in Wells' book.
  • Critical Reviews by prominent scientists of the anti-evolution book Icons of Evolution used by the Discovery Institute to prepare their biology textbook analysis.
  • More Critical Reviews and Still More Reviews by scientists of the anti-evolution Icons of Evolution.
  • Behe's Empty Box is the best source for almost all the reviews, essays, and documents by evolutionary scientists who dispute the concept, arguments, and alleged evidence proposed by Lehigh University biology professor Michael Behe in his book Darwin's Black Box for the idea of "irreducible complexity."
  • The Anti-Evolutionists: William A. Dembski is the best source for most of the writings of William Dembski and the reviews, essays, and articles by the many scientists who are critical of his claims and speculations about "specified complexity."
  • Talk Reason-Unintelligent Design, a section of Talk Reason, a website devoted to printing a collection of articles which aim to defend genuine science from numerous attempts by the new crop of creationists to replace it with theistic pseudo-science under various disguises and names. This section contains a selection of essays and papers that analyze and dissect the publications and arguments of Intelligent Design organizations and individual proponents.
  • Talk Origins-Arguments Against Creationism The anti-creationism section of famous website Talk Origins, containing numerous papers and essays that reveal the true nature of organized creationism.
  • Talk Design is a sub-site of Talk Origins created as a response to the "Intelligent Design" movement of creationism. It is dedicated to (1) assessing the claims of the Intelligent Design movement from the perspective of mainstream science, (2) addressing the wider political, cultural, philosophical, moral, religious, and educational issues that have inspired the ID movement, and (3) providing an archive of materials that critically examine the scientific claims of the ID movement.
  • Antiquity of Man Pseudoscience contains an amazingly complete list of links to anti-creationism and anti-pseudoscience resources. The Antiquity of Man website is primarily devoted to human physical anthropology and archaeology, especially Egyptian archaeology.
  • The Skeptical Creationism Website is part of the Skeptic World Site, a site devoted to investigating the claims of pseudoscience, the paranormal, and the supernatural, examining their evidence, evaluating their arguments, and attempting to debunk and refute them all.

Last updated: 3 November 2006