Texas School Books Attacked by Lobbying Group

Published October 8, 2014

Texas School Books Attacked by Lobbying Group

By H. Sterling Burnett

Environmental lobbyists are trying to censor the portrayal of climate science in textbooks being considered for adoption by the Texas State Board of Education.

The SBOE is in the midst of approving new social studies textbooks for the first time in 12 years. The books could be used in schools for more than a decade. As Texas is a huge market for textbook publishers, when the TBOE adopts a textbook, many school districts across the nation follow.

Science According to NCSE

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a group that promotes the view humans are causing catastrophic global warming, sharply criticized the textbooks, issuing a report saying Texas’ proposed textbooks were biased because they present basic questions of climate science as open for debate.

Dr. Minda Berbeco, director of the NCSE, said, “The scientific debate over whether climate change is happening and who is responsible has been over for years,” in a press statement.

Consensus exist on two points: Carbon-dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and humans have had some effect on the earth’s climate. However, the textbooks recognize important issues remain unanswered.

For instance, one proposed textbook states, “Some scientists say it is natural for the Earth’s temperature to be higher for a few years,” and, “They predict we’ll have some cooler years and things will even out.” The NCSE says it knows of no publishing climate scientist who holds that view.

However, a proposed textbook from McGraw-Hill cites extensive research from The Heartland Institute and the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change establishing numerous scientific studies affirm natural variation of the climate. It suggests scientists disagree on the cause of climate change, and, after providing evidence from both sides, asks students to decide for themselves. The NCSE objects the textbooks are wrong, claiming the textbook writers do not understand the material they are covering.

Open Climate Change Questions

Heather Kays, a research fellow and managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s School Reform News, said, “Science is always evolving. It is the responsibility of those who write curriculum to present all sides of a scientific argument. Favoring one stance over another or omitting research and opinion because it does not line up with your own thoughts and ideals is shameful. Students deserve to have all the information presented to them. Anything else is a disservice.”

“In Texas, questions of climate change certainly aren’t settled. Efforts by environmentalists to censor textbooks are typical of their tactics to shut down debate and stifle discussion. I’m happy our BOE is standing up for scientific integrity and against the bullying tactics of environmentalists,” says Colin Cahoon, Dallas attorney and Heartland Institute policy advisor.

Texas based H. Sterling Burnett ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center located in Chicago, Illinois.