Well, I was largely right in my prediction that Texas would go ahead and adopt most of the school biology textbooks vetted by their “approval committee” (6 out of the 11 members of that committee were creationists), but they balked at one.
Apparently none of the publishers of submitted books agreed to make the changes required by the creationists (good for the publishers!), and nearly all books were still approved. But one publisher who also refused to alter its edition—Pearson—didn’t get approval.
It still might be, though. This all happened after some late-night squabbling at the Texas Board of Education. NBC News reports:
The vote just before midnight did not reject the biology book by Pearson, one of the country’s largest publishers. But it delayed approval until three board members appoint a trio of outside experts to check concerns.
. . . State law approved two years ago means school districts can now choose their own books and don’t have to adhere to a list recommended by the Board of Education — but most have continued to use approved books.
. . . Publishers from around the country submitted proposed textbooks this summer, but committees of Texas volunteer reviewers — some nominated by socially conservative current and former Board of Education members — raised objections. One argued that creationism based on biblical texts should be taught in science classes, while others objected that climate change wasn’t as settled a scientific matter as some of the proposed books said.
Pearson and many other major publishers weren’t willing to make suggested major edits and changes, however.
That prompted some of the board’s socially conservative members to call for delaying approval of the book because of concerns including how long it took Earth to cool and objection to lessons about natural selection because “selection operates as a selective but not a creative force.”
I’m not sure what the last objection is about. Of course selection operates as a selective force: that’s a tautology. But it’s also creative in the sense that it results in the production of new and often marvelous traits and species. I suspect the reviewer was maintaining that only some kind of intelligence (aka God) can be a creative force.
However, I don’t think natural selection should be characterized as a “force” anyway, because that implies it’s something operating on a group of organisms from the outside. In reality it’s a process: a process of differential survival of gene forms based on their abilities to leave copies of themselves in future generations. It’s not a force but a process. However, that’s not sufficient objection to reject a textbook!
But why a midnight meeting?
Members outside the socially conservative bloc claimed their colleagues waited until the dead of night to try to impose ideological edits.
“To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable,” said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant.
He added: “I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes.”
Undoubtedly. They have to make trouble by holding at least one book hostage. I’ll try to find out what this Earth cooling business is all about.