WASHINGTON – Today, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan sent a letter  to Texas State Board of Education members urging them to reject attempts to pressure textbook companies to include the doctrine of creationism in public high school biology textbooks.
People For the American Way also joined with the Texas Freedom Network, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, and CREDO Action in delivering nearly 300,000 petitions to the Board of Education before at its hearing on new textbooks today.
“Teaching creationism in public schools isn’t just unconstitutional: It also cheats Texas kids of the science education they need to compete in the world economy,” Keegan said. “The job of the Texas State Board of Education is to ensure that Texas students receive the best education possible, not to inject politics and religious doctrine into the classroom.”
As the Texas Freedom Network and People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch have reported , members of the review panel appointed by the Texas Education Agency to review high school biology textbooks have urged the Board of Education to pressure textbook companies to include “creation science based on biblical principles” in science books. In 1987, the Supreme Court found that requiring the teaching of creationism in public school science classes is unconstitutional.
The full text of People For the American Way’s letter is below:
State Board of Education
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas, 78701
September 17, 2013
Dear Members of the Texas State Board of Education:
On behalf of People For the American Way’s 76,590 Texas members and activists, we urge you to reject attempts to pressure textbook companies to include religiously based and politically biased information in high school biology textbooks.
Recent reports by the Texas Freedom Network indicate that the majority of panelists the Texas Education Agency chose to review high school biology texts for the state do not possess post-secondary education in biological science and that many do not have any expertise in biology at all. These panelists, instead of preparing Texas students to compete in the biological sciences, have instead demanded that biology textbooks used in public schools incorporate “biblical principles” and undermine the foundational theory of evolution.
These demands run counter to the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, which found that requirements that public schools teach creationism in science classes present a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. These efforts also undermine the ability of Texas public schools to prepare students to compete in the field of biological sciences.
Our public schools must be dedicated to providing a world-class education and equal opportunity to all children, regardless of their religious backgrounds.
We urge you to reject attempts to insert political bias and religious teachings into biology textbooks used in public schools. In addition, we hope that future textbook reviews will be conducted by those with expertise in the relevant fields.
President, People For the American Way