The school board in Texas, which is controlled by the Republican party, has voted against using textbooks that cover the topic of climate change.
The education board in Texas, which is controlled by the Republican party, decided on Friday to exclude numerous textbooks on climate from the state’s science curriculum.
The board of 15 members denied 7 out of 12 textbooks for eighth-graders. The textbooks that were accepted are from the following publishers: Savvas Learning Company, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Accelerate Learning, and Summit K-12.
The textbooks that were not accepted contained suggestions for addressing the climate crisis. Members of the conservative board expressed disapproval, claiming that they were overly critical of fossil fuels, which are a significant sector in the state. Texas is the top producer of crude oil and natural gas in the country.
In 2021, Texas implemented standards mandating that eighth-graders learn the fundamentals of climate change. However, there are some who contend that this requirement is not comprehensive enough.
During a recent discussion, Aaron Kinsey, a member of the Republican board and an executive at an oilfield services company in western Texas, expressed disapproval of certain photos in textbooks for unfairly portraying the oil and gas industry.
According to Hearst Newspapers, Kinsey stated that the choice of specific images can exaggerate the situation and he suspects there was prejudice involved.
“Are you suggesting that you want to see children smiling in oilfields?” asked Aicha Davis, a Democratic board member. “I am unsure of your intentions.”
School districts in Texas, numbering over 1,000, have the option to use textbooks approved by the board. However, the board’s ruling holds significant sway.
Certain individuals in positions of influence have attempted to persuade the board to reject the proposed textbooks. On November 1st, Wayne Christian, a Texas railroad commissioner responsible for overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry, wrote a letter to the education board’s chairman Kevin Ellis expressing concerns about potential textbooks that may promote a radical environmentalist agenda.
There was also a dispute over whether to teach lessons on evolution, a scientific theory that explains the origins of human life, which is accepted by the scientific community but rejected by religious groups.
Despite the National Science Teaching Association’s pleas not to let objections to evolution and climate change sway the adoption of new textbooks, the decision was made to move forward with the adoption process.
According to Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center on Science Education, some members of the board are driven by their personal and ideological views on evolution and climate change to remove certain textbooks from the approved list.
Texas is among six states that have yet to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards into their K-12 science curriculum. These standards emphasize the fact that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can help mitigate its impact.
The state of Texas has experienced severe impacts from the increasingly dire climate crisis in recent times. Per John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist, the summer of 2023 ranked as the second warmest in history, following 2011.
In 2021, a historic winter storm hit Texas, covering much of the state in snow and causing widespread power outages due to grid failure. This event also resulted in fatalities. In 2017, Houston was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, a destructive category 4 storm that caused extensive damage to homes and buildings and claimed over 100 lives in Texas.
The state is ranked 41st out of 50 in the United States for its education system.
Reporting for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.