Republican-controlled education board in Texas-which leads the nation in the production of crude oil and natural gas- have reportedly voted not to include several climate textbooks in the state science curriculum.
The 15-member board rejected seven out of 12 for eighth-graders. The approved textbooks are published by Savvas Learning Company, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Accelerate Learning and Summit K-12.
Among the rejected textbooks are climate-crisis policy solutions, and conservative board members criticized them for being too negative about fossil fuels – a major industry in the state.
Although Texas adopted standards in 2021 that requires eighth-graders be taught the basics about climate change, some argue that measure does not go far enough. Aaron Kinsey, a Republican board member and executive of an oilfield services company in west Texas, criticized photos in some textbooks as unduly besmirching the oil and gas industry during a discussion of the materials this week.
“The selection of certain images can make things appear worse than they are, and I believe there was bias,” Kinsey said. “You want to see children smiling in oilfields?” said Democratic board member Aicha Davis. “I don’t know what you want.”
Texas’s 1,000-plus school districts are not required to use board-approved textbooks. But the board’s decision wields influence. Some in powerful positions are said to have tried to sway the board to reject the textbooks. On 1 November, Texas railroad commissioner Wayne Christian – who oversees the state’s oil and gas industry – sent a letter to the education board’s chairman Kevin Ellis, relaying “concerns for potential textbooks that could promote a radical environmentalist agenda”.
Also contested was the inclusion of lessons on evolution – the theory addressing the origins of human existence which the scientific community supports and religious groups reject.
The decision comes despite pleas from the National Science Teaching Association to not “allow misguided objections to evolution and climate change” to affect the adoption of new textbooks.
Reacting, the deputy director of the National Center on Science Education, Glenn Branch, said: “Members of the board are clearly motivated to take some of these textbooks off of the approved list because of their personal and ideological beliefs regarding evolution and climate change.”
Story was adapted from the Guardian.