Texas adopts science textbooks – without much fuss
I am a little bit late reporting this, but Josh Rosenau reported on November 26,
It’s a joy to be able to report on a sweeping victory for science education in Texas, and to be able to give an eyewitness report of the fight over the textbooks that will be used in that massive textbook market for years to come. The 2009 battle over Texas science standards made it quite possible that the textbooks adopted last week would be riddled with creationist claims, or would give creationist board members a toehold to demand that publishers rewrite their books or be left off of the state’s approved list. In the end, the books available to students will be solid, accurate, and honest about evolution and climate change.
Rosenau’s article was something of a travelog, but he finally gets to the point: The publisher of the well known textbook by Miller and Levine has denied that there are factual errors in the book, and the school board voted to approve the book contingently, pending the outcome of an investigation by three competent Texas scientists, rather than by nonscientists:
The board also refined the review process for Miller and Levine’s textbook, clarifying that the reviewers must all have PhDs in a relevant field, that the review committee’s decision can be reached by simple majority vote, rather than by consensus, and that each of the three board members would nominate one expert (not that they’d have to agree on a group of three). Each of those moves makes the process more rigorous and thus more likely to dismiss the creationist complaints.
In short, this was a victory, and an unqualified victory. While I might have preferred to have an outright rejection of the bogus complaints against Miller and Levine’s book, the board set an important precedent by creating this review process. Before this change, any appeal by publishers was resolved either by the Texas Education Agency’s legal team, or by a vote of the board. Now they’ve established a system for a second round of expert review when the first review generates dispute.