Texas OKs Controversial Environmental Science Textbook

State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, center, asks a question as the board listens to testimony during a public hearing
State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, center, asks a question as the board listens to testimony during a public hearing on proposed new science textbooks., Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in Austin, Texas. A new law is in place that gives school districts the freedom to choose their own instructional materials including software, electronic readers or textbooks with or without board approval. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Texas State Board of Education voted to approve a Houghton Mifflin environmental science textbook Friday, after some thought advocates for the oil and gas industry had tried to "hijack" the book’s adoption process.

Weighing which textbooks to approve, the board has been holding public hearings and review committees for months. There had been no concerns over the environmental textbook until a Wednesday hearing, where oil and gas professional Becky Berger attempted to persuade the board against the book's adoption.

On Thursday, nonpartisan watchdog Texas Freedom Network expressed concerns that the board would not approve the book, as a result of Berger's testimony.

“[The board] made clear that the textbook’s adoption was now in question,” said Texas Freedom Network. “The entire episode showed just how easy it is for special interests, at the last minute, to hijack the textbook adoption process in Texas."

Nevertheless, the board voted Friday to adopt the environmental science book, so long as the publisher makes minor changes to some outdated material. Dan Quinn, communications director for Texas Freedom Network, told The Huffington Post that “none of the changes would water down instruction on climate change.”

Berger told The Huffington Post on Thursday that she opposed the book because she thought it was “very one-sided” and contained a number of factual errors. She could not be reached for comment after the vote Friday.

In addition to the environmental science book, all the proposed biology textbooks were also adopted, even after opposition from creationists over the texts' teaching the theory of evolution, according to The Associated Press.

Texas schools are not required to use exclusively board-approved books. However, Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, told Huff Post in September: “I would rather be on an approved list, all else being equal.”



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