Tensions Rise Over Climate Change Content in Texas Science Textbooks

by Lucas Garcia
Texas science textbooks

The Texas State Board of Education’s impending vote on Friday has sparked controversy over the portrayal of climate change in science textbooks. The debate intensifies as some Republican members criticize the textbooks for negatively representing fossil fuels, significant in Texas, a leading state in oil and gas production.

The board, known for its past disputes over teaching evolution and U.S. history to over 5 million students, faces new challenges. In 2021, the board, dominated by conservatives, set standards that acknowledged human impact on climate change but did not endorse creationism as an alternative to evolution.

However, Republican members have recently expressed dissatisfaction with the textbooks’ portrayal of fossil fuels and their lack of alternative theories to evolution. Wayne Christian, a Republican official in the Texas oil and gas regulatory body, has advocated for textbooks that highlight the value of fossil fuels in energy generation.

Although Texas’s over 1,000 school districts are not required to use board-approved textbooks, such endorsements are influential. Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center on Science Education, attributes the board members’ inclination to remove certain books from the approved list to their personal and ideological stances on evolution and climate change.

The vote on Friday will determine if the proposed textbooks align with the 2021 standards. Branch notes that many books comply with these standards and reflect the scientific consensus.

The scientific community broadly agrees on the role of fossil fuel combustion in elevating global temperatures, disrupting weather patterns, and threatening wildlife.

Aaron Kinsey, a Republican member of the board and an executive in a West Texas oil field services company, has criticized the depiction of the oil and gas industry in some textbooks, suggesting bias in their visual representation. In response, Democrat board member Aicha Davis questioned what kind of imagery Kinsey expected.

The National Science Teaching Association, representing 35,000 U.S. science educators, has written to the board, urging them not to let unfounded criticisms of evolution and climate change hinder the adoption of science textbooks in Texas.

Emily Witt, spokesperson for the Texas Freedom Network, a group monitoring the board, indicated that the number of textbooks potentially rejected depends on their grade level and publisher. Their organization identified only two books that might not meet the 2021 standards.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Texas science textbooks

What is the controversy about science textbooks in Texas?

The controversy centers on how science textbooks in Texas address climate change and the portrayal of fossil fuels. Some Republican members of the Texas State Board of Education have criticized the textbooks for being too negative towards fossil fuels, a significant industry in Texas.

What are the concerns raised by Republican board members?

Republican board members have expressed dissatisfaction with the negative portrayal of fossil fuels in the textbooks and the absence of alternative theories to evolution. They advocate for textbooks that emphasize the importance of fossil fuels in energy production.

How does the Texas State Board of Education’s decision impact school districts?

While Texas’s over 1,000 school districts are not obligated to use the board-approved textbooks, the endorsements by the Texas State Board of Education are influential and often guide district choices.

What are the scientific standards adopted by the board in 2021?

In 2021, the Texas State Board of Education, led by a conservative majority, set standards that recognize human contributions to climate change but do not include creationism as an alternative to evolution.

What is the stance of the scientific community on this issue?

The scientific community largely agrees that the combustion of fossil fuels leads to global temperature increases, disrupting weather patterns and endangering wildlife. They advocate for textbooks that reflect this consensus.

What is the significance of the upcoming vote by the Texas State Board of Education?

The upcoming vote will decide whether the proposed science textbooks comply with the standards set in 2021. This decision will influence which textbooks are used to educate over 5 million students in Texas.

What is the position of the National Science Teaching Association on this matter?

The National Science Teaching Association, representing 35,000 science educators, urges the board not to let unfounded criticisms of evolution and climate change obstruct the adoption of science textbooks that align with scientific consensus.

More about Texas science textbooks

  • Texas Board of Education Controversy
  • Republican Criticism of Science Textbooks
  • Impact of Texas Education Board Decisions
  • 2021 Texas Science Standards
  • Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
  • National Science Teaching Association’s Position
  • Texas School Districts and Textbook Choices
  • Fossil Fuels in Educational Materials
  • Evolution and Creationism in Texas Textbooks
  • Climate Change Debate in Texas Schools

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Sam J. November 17, 2023 - 1:10 pm

wow, didn’t realize how heated this was getting in Texas. It’s like every time theres a major decision, things just blow up.

Jessie K. November 17, 2023 - 6:03 pm

This is a big deal for sure, but i’m not surprised. Texas and oil, they’ve always been tight.

Linda H. November 17, 2023 - 8:57 pm

It’s all politics, sadly. The kids are the ones who lose out when education becomes a battleground.

Terry G. November 17, 2023 - 10:13 pm

Honestly, it’s about time we had a real conversation about how climate change is taught. these textbooks matter.

Ellen D. November 18, 2023 - 10:23 am

This is just crazy, fossil fuels aren’t the only energy source out there. We need to educate the kids properly!

Mike R. November 18, 2023 - 10:44 am

can someone explain why they don’t want to include alternative theories to evolution? seems a bit narrow-minded


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