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Texans take the education of our children seriously. We strive to set high standards and demand a great deal from our educational institutions. We should do no less when it comes to choosing the textbooks that form the foundation for what our children learn.
Textbooks should present American values, democracy and freedom as concepts important to our country and to us as citizens. The Texas Legislature, in its wisdom, provided for that in the Texas Education Code which requires the State Board of Education and each school district to foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching the free enterprise system. The law states the primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for basic democratic values.
Recently, the State Board of Education (SBOE) followed both the letter and spirit of the law by rejecting a flawed textbook entitled, "Environmental Science, Creating a Sustainable Future," authored by Daniel Chiras. The SBOE rejected this particular science text, while approving 50 others, because it presented a radical, controversial, political agenda as "science." This textbook was rejected because it had factual errors and errors of omission. Bias constitutes an error of omission, and when used in educational material, it is paramount to indoctrination. Educational material should be balanced and free of errors of any kind.
Aside from the factual errors, the rejected textbook did not meet state law.
In the textbook, one section blames Christianity, democracy and industrialization as causing the so-called environmental "crisis." Blaming Democracy as a "root cause of the environmental crisis" is outrageous, and is in direct opposition to Texas law.
There is little science in this book but more focus on a so-called "environmental crisis" and in promoting change. The book reads: "The chapter’s exploration of the roots of the environmental crisis is intended to help you not only comprehend things better but also understand the key leverage points where change can be effected."
The textbook also opposes one of the key elements of a free market, private land ownership, "…the spread of democracy, which put land ownership and wealth in the hands of many, and the Industrial Revolution, which made mass production of goods possible and spread wealth throughout society, are at the root of the environmental crisis."
The statement is anti-free market, and anti-American. It blames everything our forefathers fought for as causing this so-called environmental crisis.
There are no references to the significant environmental improvements we have made, or to the scientific advances improving our environment. It paints a picture of gloom and doom, of civilization as ruining the earth and leaving an environmental wasteland. There is no consideration that a sound economy and environmental protection are dependent upon one another. When people are struggling to feed themselves, they have little focus on environmental protection.
We are all environmentalists - we all want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and a healthy environment. We must also rely on sound science, protect our democratic system of government, and work diligently to protect our freedom.
We entered a new era on September 11. Our greatest challenge is to protect what our fathers, grandfathers and forefathers fought to provide us…our freedom. September 11 was not an attack on our military or our financial institutions but an attack on our freedom. We must defend attacks on our freedom both from outside our borders and from within.
I am a mother and a proud, patriotic American who has optimism for the future. Like all Texans, I expect our schoolchildren to have access to the best educational materials available. We all want the almost $200 million spent on science textbooks to be spent wisely. This particular textbook did not meet our high standards and the SBOE wisely rejected it.
The eyes of Texas were on the SBOE in their historic vote. The SBOE voted to uphold the letter of the law and say "no" to textbooks demeaning American values, democracy and freedom. They deserve our thanks