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Conservatives Pressure Textbook Publishers To Downplay Existence Of Climate Change, Evolution

By Igor Volsky

"Conservatives Pressure Textbook Publishers To Downplay Existence Of Climate Change, Evolution"

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textbooksState-appointed text book reviewers in Texas are pressuring the nation’s largest publishers of science texts to downplay the existence of evolution and climate change, raising concerns that a small group of ideological members could significantly alter the content of high school textbooks across the country.

The evaluations of all 28 reviewers will be presented to the School Board of Education next week, at which point publishers will consider the changes before the Board votes to accept text books in November. School districts are not required to buy the approved textbooks, though most do.

Documents obtained by the Texas Freedom Network on Monday reveal that several prominent creationists with little scientific background or training are asking publishers include disclaimers about existing scientific theories. These changes include:

– called for the inclusion of “‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles”

– asserted that “no transitional fossils have been discovered”

– insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle

– claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity

promoted a book touting “intelligent design” creationism as a reliable source of scientific information

– denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms

– mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as “discredited” and as “fabrication[s]“

In terms of textbook standards, as Texas goes, so goes the nation. The state “is one of the nation’s biggest buyers of textbooks” and publishers are often “reluctant to produce different versions of the same material,” and therefore create books in line with Texas’ standards.

For years, members of the Texas Board of Education have tried, with various degrees of success, to overhaul the state’s textbook standards, “pushing for inclusion of more…Confederate glorification,” re-naming the Atlantic slave trade the “Atlantic Triangle Trade,” and prioritizing “a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.” A recent review of the books has also found a consistent pattern of negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam.

“Negotiations between publishers and the reviewers are ongoing,” the Texas Freedom Network reports, though officials “cannot release documents showing what changes – if any – publishers are offering to make to their textbooks before the only scheduled public hearing on the books on September 17.”

(HT: Brian Tashman)

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