Friday, September 27, 2013

Banning Books and Promoting Creationism: The Latest Twists in Texas and Ohio

Texas' textbook and curriculum adoption committees just cannot seem to stay out of the news. Initially, the states decision to shift textbook selection from the districts to the state raised eyebrows.  Then in 2010, it was their decision to purchase books with a conservative slant on history and economics that made the news.  The importance of this shift also had national repercussions because the number of textbooks that Texas buys allows them to shift the national market and create trends toward Texas' action.  Now, Texas is taking on biology and seeking to include creationism in every biology book in the state.  Here are some snippets from the statewide adopters' rationale and comments regarding books they wanted to reject or adopt:

  • I understand the National Academy of Science's [sic] strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that "creation science" based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.
  • Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered. The fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification. Text should ask students to analyze and compare alternative theories.
  • [We] don't really know that the carbon Cycle [sic] has been altered. [Even if it was,] in reality we don't know what climate change will do to species diversity…Question seems to imply that ecosystems will be disrupted which qwe [sic] simply don't know yet.
  • There is no discussion of the origin of information bearing [sic] molecules which is absolutely essential in any origin of life scenario. Meyer's Signature in the Cell easily dismisses any RNA first [sic] scenario. The authors need to get caught up.
Textbook and curriculum wars always make for good news, but they often make for lawsuits as well when the motivations for including materials are religious in nature or the motivations for excluding materials are to repress ideas.  My guess is that this topic is only going to get hotter as we go through the process of the common core curriculum and educators debate what literature should or should not be on reading lists.  This issue has already begun in Ohio, where the president of the state board of education called Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye "pornographic" and sought to ban it from the reading list.

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