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Texas Textbook Censors Misrepresent, Mislead and Miss the Point

AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Freedom Network this week is launching an attack on science education in Texas, seeking to restrict the flow of information to students. TFN is asking for people to sign their petition supposedly to protect science textbooks from censorship, and claiming that there are efforts to insert creationism in textbooks, which is completely false.

The truth about TFN is that:

  • their petition drive misrepresents what they really want, which is a restriction on the scientific information students are allowed to learn;
  • their petition drive misleads the public and state leaders by claiming that mainstream Texans support their efforts to censor student textbooks;
  • they completely miss the point, which is that textbooks need to conform to Texas state law. Current Texas law specifies that textbooks must be “free from factual errors” (Texas Education Code, § 31.023) and that students are “expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.” (emphasis added) (TEKS §112.43c(3)A)

“All Discovery Institute has ever advocated is that textbooks should fix embarrassing factual errors and tell students about the scientific weaknesses of neo-Darwinism as well as its strengths,” said Dr. John G. West, associate director of the Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “This is fully in accord with Texas law, which says students should know the scientific evidence that both supports and shows the weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”

To ensure balanced and accurate reporting, here are comments by four science and policy experts you can use. These experts are also available for interviews:

Dr. Francis Beckwith, Baylor University: “As I testified to the Texas State Board of Education, textbooks that address the topic of evolution should present students with accurate portrayals of current scientific data critical of neo-Darwinism brought forth by credentialed scholars whose works have been published by university presses and peer-reviewed journals. Offering scientific arguments critical of Darwin’s theory in a public school science classroom is not religious as long as the lesson plans rely exclusively on secular reasons.”

Dr. Jonathan Wells (Ph.D., molecular and cell biology, University of California, Berkeley): “Texas students are in danger of being left behind in the nineteenth century by Darwinist dogmatists who don’t want students to learn about recent scientific debates and findings. The scientific mistakes and inaccuracies regarding evolutionary theory in textbooks are unacceptable if we want students to have a twenty-first century education.”

Dr. John G. West, Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute: “Darwinist censors don’t want evolution to be fully and completely examined, and so they are seeking to keep the scientific evidence for and against evolution theory out of textbooks. TFN wrongly claims to represent mainstream Americans. In fact, most Americans favor full disclosure when teaching evolution.”

Bruce Chapman, President of Discovery Institute: “It’s unconscionable how Darwinists are trying to misrepresent a science debate as a religious dispute. All we’ve ever asked is that Darwin’s theory be fully and completely covered in textbooks. This has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with accurate science education.”

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.