Texas Education Agency looking for social studies books reviewers (and math and fine arts)

December 2, 2013

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious.  This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious. This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord, Austin American-Statesman

Good news a few days ago was that the Texas State Board of Education approved science books that teach real science, for use in Texas schools.

But the Road Goes On Forever, and the Tea Party Never Ends:  Social studies books are up for review, now.

TEA is looking for nominations for reviewers for books in social studies, math and fine arts.  Here’s the notice I got in e-mail:

The Texas Education Agency is now accepting nominations to the state review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for adoption under Proclamation 2015.

To nominate yourself or someone else to serve on a state review panel, please complete the form posted at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258 and submit it to the TEA on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.

Proclamation 2015 calls for instructional materials in the following areas:

♦   Social Studies, grades K-12

♦   Social Studies (Spanish), grades K-5

♦   Mathematics, grades 9-12

♦   Fine Arts, grades K-12

State review panels are scheduled to convene in Austin for one week during the summer of 2014 to review materials submitted under Proclamation 2015. The TEA will reserve hotel lodging and reimburse panel members for all travel expenses, as allowable by law.

  • Panel members should plan to remain on-site for five days to conduct the evaluation.
  • Panel members will be asked to complete an initial review of instructional materials prior to the in-person review.
  • Panel members will receive orientation and training both prior to the initial review and at the beginning of the in-person review.
  • Panel members might be asked to review additional content following the in-person review.
  • Because many of the samples will be delivered electronically, panel members should be comfortable reviewing materials on-screen rather than in print.
  • Panel members should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Upon initial contact by a representative of the TEA, state review panel nominees begin a “no-contact” period in which they may not have either direct or indirect contact with any publisher or other person having an interest in the content of instructional materials under evaluation by the panel. The “no contact” period begins with the initial communication from the Texas Education Agency and ends after the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopts the instructional materials. The SBOE is scheduled to adopt Proclamation 2015 materials at its November 2014 meeting.

Nominations are due on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.  The nomination form is posted on the TEA website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258.

If you have any questions, please contact review.adoption@tea.state.tx.us.

***********************************************************

Thank you for your commitment to serving Texas students.

Social Studies Staff, Division of Curriculum, (512) 463-9581

Social Studies in Texas include history, geography, economics, government (civics), and (oddly) psychology and sociology, and “special topics.”

Please pass word along to the teachers you know in social studies, fine arts and math.

We recall that old Bette Davis line, playing Margot Channing in “All About Eve”:  “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

More:


Texas, the eyes of Darwin are upon you

September 20, 2013

Graphic from Colin Purrington, in commemoration of the kickoff of hearings at the Texas State Board of Education on science textbooks, September 18, 2013

Graphic from Colin Purrington, in commemoration of the kickoff of hearings at the Texas State Board of Education on science textbooks, September 18, 2013

Colin Purrington Tweeted, “Thanks, @ncse for helping keep Darwin in Texas science textbooks. #Whac-A-Mole #creationism #StandUp4Science pic.twitter.com/8dNYbqFELV.”

More:


They’re coming for the science textbooks, again; join me in speaking up

July 23, 2013

I get e-mail, sometimes from the Texas Freedom Network. In this case, I’m happy to share. You need to know this.

Would you sign the petition?

Stand Up for Science

SUFS-Tex and T-Rex

Click Here to Sign the Petition

Dear Ed,

I’m worried about my kids’ future because of six words.

The Texas State Board of Education.

The state board has already begun working on its once-a-decade adoption of science textbooks for Texas classrooms. And for years, an anti-science faction of that board has done all it can to undermine the science of evolution and climate change by giving equal weight to nonscientific beliefs like climate change denial and the idea that dinosaurs and humans coexisted.

We’ve got news for those folks: Big Tex and T-Rex didn’t ride the range together.

It’s time to Stand Up for Science.

Click here to sign our petition and help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures of Texans demanding that the State Board of Education approve science textbooks that are based on sound, peer-reviewed scholarship.

This fight is personal for me because from an early age, both my kids have loved science. In fact, my oldest son is enrolled in the “tech academy” at his middle school, where he’s learning about cool high-tech careers and honing computer skills that already put me to shame.

But whether you have school-aged kids or not, this fight is too important to the future of Texas and the nation to ignore. With over 5 million students, Texas is one of the country’s biggest buyers of textbooks. And that has an impact on other states because book publishers often follow our lead so that they don’t have to create different versions of the same science books.

I want my kids and every child to have classroom materials based on modern, mainstream science that gets them ready for college and prepares them for those high-tech jobs my son is learning about. Anything less handicaps their future and sets them up to fail.

For our children’s future, let’s win this.

Sign our petition to Stand Up for Science.

Regards,
Ryan Valentine
Deputy Director, Texas Freedom Network

They’re coming for Texas science textbooks, again; please stand up and speak out for science, for accuracy, for good education.

More:


Steve Schafersman, Texas State Board of Education District 15

November 6, 2012

District 15 for the Texas State Board of Education covers 77 counties in Texas’s northern Panhandle.  It’s oil (Midland), cotton, Texas prairie and small towns, and lots of schools, and some surprisingly good colleges and universities.

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image – “District Overview
District 15 is huge, covering all of northwestern Texas. It is also arguably the most Republican SBOE district, giving more than 74 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and more than 70 percent to Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial race.”

It’s a district where science plays a big role, and should play a bigger one.  The 15th includes those lands in Texas where the Dust Bowl got started, where unwise plowing based on inaccurate readings of climate contributed to one of the greatest man-made natural resources disasters in all of history.  It’s the home of Texas Tech University, where members of the chemistry faculty created a wine industry based on the chemistry of grape selection and fermentation, and where geologists learn how to find oil.

This area leads Texas in wind power generation, a considerable factor in the state that leads the nation in wind power generation.

In short, science, engineering and other technical disciplines keep this area economically alive, and vital at times.

Of the two candidates, Democrat Steve Schafersman is a scientist, and a long-time, staunch defender of science education (what we now cutely call “STEM” subjects:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  If the race were decided by a test in STEM subjects, Schafersman would be the winner.  Schafersman lives in Midland.

The GOP candidate in the race is religiously anti-science, Marty Rowley of Amarillo.  As a good-ol’-boy, former pastor, he’s got a lot of support from the usual suspects.  Rowley’s views on science, technology, engineering and mathematics run contrary to the business and farming interests of his entire district.  Do his supporters look to the future?

Do you vote in Midland, Lubbock, Amarillo, Dalhart, Abilene, San Angelo, Dallam County, Tom Greene County, Cooke County or Montague County?  You need to vote for Steve Shafersman.  Do your children a favor, do your schools a favor, and do your region of Texas a favor, and vote for the guy who works to make education good.

Shafersman is the better-qualified candidate, and probably among the top two or three people with experience making the SBOE work well, in the nation.  He deserves the seat, and Texas needs him.

More:

Steve Schafersman campaign flier:

Shafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15

Schafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15 – click image for larger version


No fireworks at Texas SBOE – quiet erosion of science? (Live blogging)

July 21, 2011

July 21, 2011, Austin — Far fewer people than usual signed up to testify on the electronic science book supplements the Texas State Board of Education is considering in lieu of new textbooks (no money for texts from the legislature, you recall).

So, in keeping with Chairman Barbara Cargill’s wishes, testimony concluded at 4:06 p.m. CDT, just six minutes later than scheduled.

Good deal.  The air conditioning in the first floor hearing room still doesn’t work well.

Since 2003, the most visible difference in these hearings is the back wall.  That’s where the electrical outlets are, and so those seats get taken up by publishers, lawyers, lobbyists, and a few bloggers.

These events are being live-blogged by Steven Schafersman from Texas Citizens for Science (at the Texas Observer site), and by the Texas Freedom Network’s blog, Insider.  I’ll add notes below as we progress.

When the board reconvenes at 4:30, the board will take up consideration of the supplemental materials.  If they follow the testimony, there will be a quick vote to approve all of the supplements still standing.

But this may be where the fireworks get lighted.

Most witnesses asked the board to simply approve the supplemental material favored by staff at the Texas Education Agency and by the panels of teachers and experts the board appointed earlier.  Those recommendations excluded the only pro-creationism materials by a small, first-time publishing company.

Andrew Ellington, the biology whiz from the University of Texas, gave another great presentation — limited to two minutes under the new rules.  Most pro-evolution witnesses got no questions.

Josh Rosenau, the out-of-state champion for evolution (from the National Center for Science Education – NCSE, and Sciblogs blogger at Thoughts from Kansas) made the case for hard science.  Walter Bradley, the champion for creationism, didn’t show up.  He sent a substitute to read his testimony, in which he urged rejection of all the proposed materials because they don’t savage Darwin.  He also gave thanks to God for the Texas SBOE.

Schafersman wrote, and you may wish to note:

My friends at Texas Freedom Network (TFN), Ryan Valentine and Dan Quinn, are also live blogging this meeting at TFN Insider. Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education is also here live tweeting at at @JoshRosenau and @NCSE (using hashtag #txtxt). TFN informs me they are also live tweeting at #SBOE. Abby Rapoport of the Texas Observer will also be tweeting about this meeting using #SBOE.

______________

The Board reconvened promptly at 4:30.  After a typical, SBOE-style confused discussion of the process, submissions for science supplements for grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 were quickly approved on a show-of-hands vote.  The room has an electronic voting system which could offer quicker results.  A show-of-hands is folksy and friendly, but leaves a poor record for tracking.  Is this an intentional stab against transparency?

Discussion stalled at 8th grade materials.  Question raised about whether striking a publisher’s materials requires just one objection or a majority vote (should be majority vote — the chair’s description sorta said that).

One publisher disputed two of 132 found errors — staff agreed with the publisher that there was no error.  Chemistry.  Chair Cargill announces that chemistry, physics and IPC curricula for high schools will be considered first — biology last.  (Fireworks then?).

[Much of this discussion carries little significance.  Among the errors officially tallied:  "Judgment" is misspelled.  Gail Lowe makes it clear that she has what she thinks are significant errors identified for one publisher, in the biology materials- Pearson,Technical Laboratory Systems, Chemistry I think.  Fines can be levied for publishers who fail to correct errors.]

This discussion is so much inside baseball that the board takes a recess to figure it out.

It looks like — correct me if I’m wrong — the board is working to take potshots at some publisher’s biology stuff, and kill it.


War on science, war on education: Evolution under fire at Texas education board

July 21, 2011

Ryan at the Texas Freedom Network laid out the stakes:

Just a reminder about what new chairwoman Barbara Cargill — and her five “conservative Christian” allies on the State Board of Education — have in mind for the meeting this week:

I am a little bit concerned in looking at some of these science online supplementary materials. I looked at one of the links and there was a picture of a — a graphic of a human fetus next to a gorilla fetus talking about how they only differ by one amino acid. Therefore, universal common decent. So that is of some concern. And I am not quite sure if we are going to have the votes to overturn that. We will work diligently to rectify and correct some of that. But remember we lost a conservative seat, so we’re down to six.

In this unguarded moment, Cargill drops the double-speak and is honest about her plan for the first meeting over which she will preside as chair  — pressure publishers to censor scientific information from their materials and to insert bogus information questioning evolution. And she knows exactly what her task is: to get the extra votes necessary to accomplish this.

Stay tuned to TFN Insider on Thursday and Friday as we give you a front-row seat at the contentious hearing and board vote.

Live blogging the meeting starting at about 10:00 a.m today at TFN Insider at at Steve Schafersman’s blog, from the Texas Citizens for Science.

More, resources:


Friends of science and evolution: Testify next week in the Texas textbook process?

July 14, 2011

I get important e-mail from the Texas Freedom Network; they’re asking for help next week to fight creationism and other forms of buncombe popular in Texas:

Science and the SBOE: One Week to Go

Next week, the Texas State Board of Education will take a critical vote on science in our public schools. We need people like you to make sure the vote is in favor of sound, well-established science.

Up for board consideration are science instructional materials submitted by a number of publishers and vendors who want their product used in Texas classrooms. Even before the board meets, far-right groups have been hard at work trying to ensure materials approved by the board attack and diminish evolutionary science and include the junk science of “intelligent design”/creationism.

The attacks include one from a little-know firm out of New Mexico, International Databases, which submitted instructional materials rife with creationist propaganda.

It gets worse. Far-right SBOE members last month appointed creationists with questionable scientific credentials to teams tasked with reviewing the materials and making recommendations to the board.

And new board chair Barbara Cargill upped the stakes when in a speech just last week she framed the debate over science as a “spiritual battle.”

The board will hold just ONE public hearing on the science materials. Your participation is crucial.

It is critical that you act now by clicking here to express your interest in testifying before the board on July 21.

Please note: The deadline to sign up to testify is 5 p.m. Monday.

We must insist that the SBOE keep junk science – including “intelligent design”/creationism – out of our children’s classrooms. The board must approve only instructional materials that are accurate, that are in line with sound and well-established science, and that will prepare Texas children to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century.

Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right. www.tfn.org | www.tfninsider.org | General: tfn@tfn.org
Tell a friend to subscribe to TFN News Clips, Alerts or Rapid Response Teams. Subscribers may choose the issue areas that interest them. To change your TFN subscription preferences – or to unsubscribe – click here.
Copyright 2010, Texas Freedom Network

Trying to carve out time here.  Can you help?

Hearings will be most interesting.  Support for the Texas State Board of Education actually comes, often, from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  TEA this week laid off just under 200 workers, to deal with the 36% budget chopping done to the agency by the Texas Lege.  Word comes this week that curriculum directors at TEA were let go, including the director of science curriculum.

It’s rather like the first 20 weeks of World War II in the Pacific, with the aggressors advancing on almost all fronts against science.  When is our Battle of Midway?

Information, resources: 


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