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Press Release

    Testimony Before the Texas State Board of Education

    11/08/2001

    I am here today for two purposes. First, I want to urge the State Board of Education to vote to reject "Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future," published by Jones and Bartlett. Second, inasmuch as I understand there are still lingering questions concerning the Board’s authority to reject texts, I want to offer some thoughts on that subject, too.

    Concerning Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future, this book is totally unsuitable to be used as a text for instruction. It is not a science book. It is a book that is intended to subvert the values taught by the family and in churches and replace them with values that the author believes will need to be taught worldwide.

    How do I know this? The author tells me so. On page 41, the author says "This book could change your values and beliefs." The author is really quite up front about his agenda. In the preface he openly says that his book has an agenda. He calls it a "theme," but he doesn’t disguise his objectives at all. He says that his objective is to change our children’s values. Specifically, he says that Christianity and its values are among the root causes of the crisis he sees. The author talks of Christian ruthlessness towards our environment.

    Among the other root causes, according to the author, are Democracy, Industrialization, and a way of life that is based on the assumption of plenty.

    The third set of root causes are "Biological and evolutionary roots." Here, the author sets the stage by painting a picture of vines and plants that proliferate. He then equates humans to these plants and describes this as "biological imperialism." The then discusses how factors such as the plague that used to control human population has been eradicated. In other words, medicine is bad, plague is good.

    Because of time constraints, I’ll not go further, but I have copied and annotated portions of this book for your review. It is so blatant in its indoctrination that you simply must reject it.

    But I want now to turn to your authority to reject this book. I am confident that if you review the attached material you will have no question that the book should be rejected.

    As I understand it, there remains lingering questions at the State Board level as to the applicability of TEC 28.002(h) to the texts under consideration and also whether or not blatant indoctrination falls under the concept "factual error."

    I’d like to take TEC 28.002(h) first.

    Section 28.002 is Required Curriculum. Subsection (h) reads: "The State Board of Education and each school district shall foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching United States and Texas history and the free enterprise system in regular subject matter and in reading courses and in the adoption of textbooks. A 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 the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage." Subsection (I) charges the State Board of Education with "implementation."

    Recently, in a discussion with a senior TEA official, that official expressed a view that the legislature that passed TEC 28.002(h) was motivated by history and social studies and that TEC 28.002(h) did not therefore apply to science and environmental science texts.

    Ladies and gentlemen of the board, I’m sure you’re well aware that the law is supposed to first be applied as it is written if the language is clear and intent is only a factor if the meaning of the written law is unclear. Subsection 28.002(h) couldn’t be clearer and it applies both to textbooks and curriculum.

    But to remove any doubt, let’s consider intent for a second.

    I spoke with my state representative, the Honorable Charlie Howard, on this issue. He expressed chagrin at the notion that this law would be selectively interpreted to apply only to history and social studies texts and not science and environmental science. He told me in no uncertain terms that although perhaps motivated by the then existing concern over history and social studies, the intent of the legislature was very definitely to protect Texas’ school children – not only during that session, but in the future -- by addressing all textbooks.

    And, with respect to environmental science, there is no better authority to offer an opinion that Rep. Howard. He was the chairman of the legislature’s subcommittee on environmental education. That subcommittee held a series of hearings specifically motivated by the legislature’s concern over mis-education, bias and indoctrination in environmental education materials. When we specifically discussed the material in the Jones and Bartless book, Rep. Howard replied that this was precisely the sort of thing that the legislature was concerned about.

    Ladies and gentlemen of the State Board, TEC Section 28.002(h) does apply to these texts and if you intend to adhere to the law, you must reject the Jones and Bartless book because it is anti-American, because it is anti-free enterprise, because the end result of the instruction would not result in thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.

    In the short time remaining, I want to briefly turn to the subject of "factual error."

    TEC Section ____ establishes that no text can be adopted if it contains factual error.

    There appears to be a school of thought at the SBOE level that factual error does not include false and blatant indoctrination (called "bias" by some) but rather only addresses such things as two plus two equal five or water freezes at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The TEC does not define what constitutes factual error, therefore it is left to others to figure out what it means. The TEA has taken its stab at factual error by defining it in TAC Section 66.10(c)(1). To the extent that the TAC is at variance with the intent of the legislature (if the meaning of the written language is unclear) the TAC would be invalid and conversely, to the extent that the TAC conforms, it is law.

    When not defined, it is common that the plain meaning of the language tells us the meaning. That is the purpose of language. When we consider both fact – or factual – and error, it is instructive to refer to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, an authoritative source, and Blacks Law Dictionary, another authoritative source.

    Both of these are consistent. Factual and error are two sides of the same coin. Factual deals with the positive side and error with the negative. Both deal with the actual state of being, with truth.

    When something is fact, it is truth. Two plus two does equal five. It is the actual state of being. When something is error, it is untruth. Water does not freeze at forty degrees Fahrenheit. To so state would be representing a state of being that is not actual, an untruth, and would represent factual error.

    But this concept goes further. To assert any state that is not true as if it were true is to misrepresent and distort the actual state of being and would be untrue, therefore would be factual error.

    In science, settled science is only that which has gone through a rigorous process. All else is opinion, hypothesis and theory.

    The Jones and Bartlett book is so replete in asserting as fact that which is unproven, or which is opinion, or which is agenda that it would be impossible to give you a list unless I simply Xeroxed the entire book and presented it to you. But make no mistake. The contents of this book are factual error just as much as if they had claimed that water freezes at forty degrees.

    It would be ludicrous to think that the legislature intended for indoctrination to be interpreted to be the truth. But there remains a question, is any of this at variance with the TAC’s definition of factual error?

    The answer is no. There are two tests the TAC applies. First, a fact is factual error if it is "verified error." Who verifies? The TAC doesn’t say. The truth is that you, the SBOE could pass a resolution verifying and that would suffice. When I met recently with Commissioner Jim Nelson he acknowledged that the SBOE has the power and authority to be the body so verifying. The question is, will you?

    Second, the TAC Section 66.10(c)(1) also defines "factual error" as any error that would interfere with student learning. Recall that error is the negative of actuality. If you believe that the author’s treating the subject of this text as if it were true, when it is not, and in indoctrinating the student to reject his religious upbringing, to reject the free enterprise system, and to embrace austerity without it being proven to be necessary, and to reject patriotism and our American form of government in favor of global governance, then you would be well within your authority to reject the book on these grounds.

    Ladies and gentlemen of the SBOE, it is clear that the Jones and Bartlett book is so error ridden and offensive that it deserves to be rejected. It is also clear that you have not only the authority but the obligation to do so. Thank you.