Politics & Government

Texas textbook dispute ends over climate change and other topics

The Texas state Board of Education on Friday approved social studies textbooks and digital books that present climate change in a scientifically accurate way, according to a Texas watchdog group.

The advocacy group, Texas Freedom Network, had opposed passages in several books that a scientific review concluded could lead students to conclude, wrongly, that scientists don’t agree about the cause of global warming. There’s consensus internationally among climate scientists that burning fossil fuels is causing a warming of the atmosphere and oceans. (Background story here.)

The state Board of Education announced on Friday that it approved 316 new books and e-books for social studies, fine arts and high school math on Friday. Classrooms will start using the materials in the fall. (More on that here.)

Texas has the second-largest school population after California, and so textbooks for its market often are used in other parts of the country as well.

McGraw-Hill School Education and other school publishers made changes in the textbooks that eliminated the objectionable passages about climate change, said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for Texas Freedom Network. The group monitors far-right religious issues and groups. It had warned that publishers had been under pressure from social conservatives to include material that promotes the view that climate change is not a serious matter.

Quinn said on Friday that the changes to the books that the Board of Education posted online showed that no factually inaccurate material on climate change was included.

Texas Freedom Network also said it succeeded in getting other changes, such as revisions of passages that had promoted negative stereotypes of Muslims. Scholars and the public had time to review and comment on the changes, Quinn said.

But the board approved the books on Friday without giving time for scholars to vet the latest changes that publishers made this week.

“What we saw today shows very clearly that the process the State Board of Education uses to adopt textbooks is a sham," Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller said in a statement. "This board adopted textbooks with numerous late changes that the public had little opportunity to review and comment on and that even board members themselves admitted they had not read. They can't honestly say they know what's in these textbooks, which could be in classrooms for a decade."