Educational Research Analysts  May 2002 Newsletter 

Just say no to anti-intellectualism

Texas' Elected SBOE Enforces General Textbook Content Standards

Texas' elected State Board of Educa­tion (SBOE) has again con­firm­ed the education es­tablish­ment's dread of democra­cy, by nixing viewpoint discrimi­nation and special-interest advo­ca­cy. Last November, all ten SBOE Repub­licans reject­ed a politically-correct high school Environ­mental "Science" textbook, that the Board's five Demo­crats liked. But the real ques­tion here was, Can the SBOE, under Texas law, en­force general text­book content standards? Despite misrep­resen­ta­tions of the law and a media out­cry, the SBOE correctly voted yes.

General textbook content standards differ from rules for individual courses. They tell what all textbooks must do, and prohibit things they must NOT include – such as no blatantly offensive language or illustrations, no sensa­tional violence, no group stereo­typing, and no presenting theories as facts. Also, if submitted text­books miss one individual course require­ment, they go onto Texas' "non-conforming" list. But if they violate a single general textbook content standard, the SBOE can reject them – the fate that publishers most fear.

The rejected high school text, Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future (Jones & Bartlett, 2001) censored pro-free enterprise counterarguments to environmental extremism.

Actually, three high school Environ­mental "Science" books were under fire in Texas last November. One was withdrawn. An­oth­er was revised. Only the third was rejected, whose pub­lish­er balked at suf­fi­cient changes. The rejected text censored pro-free enterprise coun­ter­argu­ments against envi­ronment­alist extrem­ism on "over­population," dwindling natural resources ("un­sus­tain­ability"), and anti-private property rights. That violated a Texas rule requiring discussion of scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories in this particular course.

Yet that would only have put this book on the "non­con­forming" list. So why did Texas' elected SBOE reject it instead? Because it breached a general textbook content standard, which says: "Theories shall be clearly disting­uished from fact and pre­sent­ed in an objective edu­cational man­ner." Such reasser­tion of SBOE power to en­force general textbook content standards is es­pe­cial­ly timely now. Last year it was texts in one elective En­viron­mental "Science" course. This year Texas evaluates books for all required K-12 Social Studies subjects.

Pro-free enterprise per­spec­tives on pop­ula­tion, conservation, and pri­vate property destroy the pan­the­istic, social­is­tic, anti-develop­ment­al super­structure of Environmental "Science" textbooks.

Enforcement of Texas' general textbook content stan­dards means real textbook reform, because rather than tell both sides of an issue, liberals will drop the subject (or minimize its coverage). The more they believe their own propa­ganda on a topic, the truer this is. Requiring equal empha­sis on be­ne­fits of free enterprise is the death knell of radical environment­alism. Rather than having to com­pete with pro-capitalist per­spec­tives in Environmental "Science" textbooks, the left will grudg­ing­ly drop its pantheistic, socialistic, anti-develop­mental agenda there.

Already Texas' elected SBOE is on bureau­crats' hit list, for questioning Goals 2000 "reforms." Already it is under siege by state legislators, for fighting their bids to drain the Permanent School Fund for general reve­nue. (The Board controls this Fund, which pays for textbooks.) Now comes flak for en­forcing general textbook content stan­dards. These are pretexts for replacing Texas' elected SBOE with an appointed Board – a Board more trusting of the edu­ca­tion estab­lish­ment, a Board more pliable by politicians, a Board less re­spon­sive to citizens.

LIBERATE Environmental 'Science' Textbooks From Political Correctness
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Define the debate
Radical environmentalism expands government control over private property. It scapegoats certain groups (capitalists, Christians) and is quasi-pagan (Gaia worship). These are elements of fascism.
Take the offensive
Free enterprise limits government. Environmental "Science" textbooks practice viewpoint discrimination (by stressing faults of capitalism) and special-interest advocacy (by censoring its benefits).
Pre-empt the high ground
Your concern is not what Environmental "Science" textbooks say, but what they censor. They exclude discrepant info on controversial issues. They teach students what to think, not how to think.
Understand the left
Rather than tell both sides of an issue, liberals prefer to drop the subject. They will definitely stop emphasizing the faults of capitalism altogether, before they equally stress its benefits.
Avoid distractions
The economic doctrines of the occult are always socialistic. Thus, stressing benefits of free enterprise automatically debunks "Earth goddess" paganism. Forget First Amendment protests here.
You do this through:
  • Extensive, specific textbook standard review criteria on a subject, listing facts that publishers usually censor on major topics.
  • Credibility with teachers, so that annual statewide text-book sales figures repeatedly mirror your rankings on your rating sheets.
  • At least one 8-year Texas textbook adoption cycle, to bring these first two factors to bear on publishers in a subject area.

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How do you:

Break extremists'
grip on
Environmental "Science" courses …


Use of more natural resources creates new technology, which: turns useless raw materials into usable re­sources; obtains and utilizes re­sources more effi­cient­ly; helps develop sub­sti­tutes; discovers more known reserves; and expands natural resource production in response to price changes.

Known reserves of natural re­sources usually in­crease as their rising prices justify search­ing for more of them. Ulti­mate­ly re­cover­able reserves are much greater, and increase further as extractive tech­nol­ogies improve. If resources are getting scarcer, why are they getting cheaper?

Long-run prices trend down­ward, due to great­er re­source avail­ability. Spec­u­la­tors dis­count fu­ture scarci­ties in current prices, encourag­ing con­ser­va­tion. Most impor­tant is not how scarce a natural re­source is, but the cost of ob­tain­ing it – not its quan­ti­ty, but how useful each unit can be made through expand­ing technology.


Population growth: expands markets; improves trans­por­ta­tion and com­muni­ca­tion among them, reducing famines; en­cour­ages econ­omies of scale; diver­si­fies pro­duc­tion; enlarg­es the pool of human in­gen­uity; pro­vides more workers to support retirees; and raises per capita in­come when "baby boomers" reach maturity.

Low taxes spur invest­ment, increase em­ploy­ment, reward produc­tive con­sump­tion, boost real wages, and expand the tax base. This plus legal equality, open oppor­tunity, and private property rights in capitalist economies most efficiently lifts the working poor into the middle class.

Quality of life depends on eco­nom­ic pro­duc­tiv­ity, not pop­ula­tion density. Dense pop­u­la­tions have rising living stan­dards where free market policies foster economic growth. Under­pro­ductive socialist systems are "over-populated," with too few workers and too many mouths to feed.

... by insisting
on these
Textbooks speak of lum­ber com­pan­ies clear-cut­ting public land. They never tell of them clear-cut­ting their own land. Private owner­ship best conserves resources through superior manage­ment practices.

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2002 grades 6-7 Science textbook ratings

Texas has approved the Grades 6-7 Science programs of three major publishers for 2002 local adoption. State law required them to present scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories. Based on their conformity to this rule in treatment of evolution, they rank as follows:

6th Grade
7th Grade
Prentice is better overall. Better Science Explorer
Prentice ©2002
Better Science Explorer 
Prentice ©2002
  Better Texas Science 
Glencoe ©2002
Poor Texas Science 
Glencoe ©2002
  Poor Holt Science & Technology 
Holt ©2002
Poor Holt Science & Technology 
Holt ©2002

Why do we rate Science books only by their conformity to state law on evolution? This is important to Texas teachers. In 1998, the two most conforming Biology I books (out of seven) took 58% state market share. In 2000, the two most conforming Grade 5 Science programs (out of four) sold 68% of Texas. In 2002, the two most conforming 6th Grade Science texts outsold the least conforming book by about 4 to 1.

If you live outside Texas, insist on the final Texas editions, which correct factual errors. No publisher funded our reviews in any way. We have no financial stake in any text­book company. Unlike publisher sales reps, we have no monetary interest in any text­book adoption outcome. Our support comes from concerned individuals and a few small foundations, which to our knowledge have no ties to the public school textbook industry.