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Gollihar SBOE Letter

Gollihar SBOE Letter

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Published by txfredomnetwork
Gollihar SBOE Letter
Gollihar SBOE Letter

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Published by: txfredomnetwork on Sep 11, 2013
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09/15/2013

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013To the Texas State Board of Education:After having participated in the three rounds of review for Proclamation 2014 (HS Biology), I feelcompelled to highlight several aspects of the review process that greatly need your attention. As itstands now, this process has been at best procedurally dubious and is on course to reduce, rather thanimprove, the quality of textbooks in our state.First, it would seem that the selection process for reviewers is lacking, at best
politically motivated atworst. Coming into the live review session in Austin, I fully expected that as a doctoral student at theUniversity of Texas at Austin I would be the least-qualified member on the panel. My fears of inadequacy would soon subside; it seems that I was in fact one of only two
 practicing
scientists present;indeed, I was among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in thebiological sciences. Given the high interest amongst the scientific community in improving scienceeducation in Texas, I doubt that the make-up of the panel reflected the application pool in any way.In fact, I know that several of my colleagues who hold PhD or equivalent degrees in their respectivefields were passed over in the selection process. Instead, we had several well-known creationists andeven a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design think tank. Beyond the establishedcreationists, apologists for
“creation science” were
scattered throughout each of the review teams. Thisdoes not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community. It isimpossible to conclude that the teams reviewing textbooks were anything other than grossly skewedand obviously biased.The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking forfactual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panelmembers on past and current literature. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a reviewer from another table, whois also a well-known creationist without any training in biology, was quite proud that he was the onereviewing the sections on evolution for his table
… with no scientific counterpoint to be had
. As a result,even beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the commentsfound littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint and areabsolutely not germane to the content prescribed in the TEKS.Secondly, I and other members of my group grew increasingly concerned with both the actions andpresence of Chairwoman Barbara Cargill during the review of course materials for high school biology.We appreciated her kind words about our service to the state, but we were taken aback by the sheeramount of time spent with other panel members, especially those who might reasonably be regarded ascreationists. From our vantage, Ms. Cargill was clearly trying to steer the independent review processby providing specific guidance and direction to the two other teams. She appeared to be pointing tospecific locations within certain texts and encouraging the members of the panel to recommend

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