Texas Textbook Debate Pits Evolution and Creationism in School Books

The debate involving the Texas school board and the contents of the state's school science textbooks is continuing. Reviewers of possible textbooks raised concerns over perceived factual errors in some of the textbooks in question.

The subject matter covered in the disputed textbooks is science and more specifically the issues of evolution and creationism. The Texas Board of Education is specifically tasked to report any factual errors they find in newly proposed textbooks.

A report by the Associated Press revealed that one biology textbook was cited for 20 alleged errors. Those objections dealt specifically with how long it took the Earth to cool and a section covering the evolutionary process of natural selection. There was also concerns over the portrayal of climate change as undisputed scientific fact.

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Some members of the the school board are worried about political and ideological beliefs being included and printed next to accepted scientific fact.

The process in Texas has also received extra attention due to some of the members of the review panel, which includes members who have publicly backed creationism and say it should be taught in science class.

Speaking of the objections raised by reviewer Ide P. Trotter, a chemical engineer and financial advisor, insisted that he "did a pretty good review, modestly speaking."

Trotter has stated on record that he is against teaching evolution in Texas schools, according to the New York Times.

The vice chairman of the Board of Education, Republican Thomas Ratliff, feels that process is getting away from serving the interests of the children who will actually be using the textbooks.

"I believe the process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes." Ratliff said during a hearing on Thursday.

Critics have maintained that to teach topics that are not considered scientifically-based is to set future students up for failure.

"Innovation is what's going to make United States' economy grow. And in order to have innovation, you need to have scientifically literate students graduating from all kinds of schools," popular scientist Bill Nye previously said during an appearance on comedian Bill Maher's show.

The textbook in question's publisher, Pearson Education, has stated that it will refuse to make the listed changes. A spokeswoman for the publishing company, Susan Aspey, said the company will stand by the contents of the materials they provide to students.

The outcome in Texas has a far-reaching effect to students across the nation due to the influence Texas schools have on book publishers. Many publishers base their textbooks on the requirements of the Texas school boards due to the number of students in the state's educational system.

The final vote over whether or not to accept the textbook in its current edition will fall on a panel of experts who will be appointed based on academic credentials, according to AP.

Those who take part in the final review process must have at least a Ph. D. in a relevant scientific field, which must be agreed upon by the board.

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