Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Not So Pyrrhic Victory in Texas

My friend Dan Quinn, who does such a great job as the communications director of the Texas Freedom Network, emailed me after my post the other day about the new law in Texas that allows local school boards to purchase textbooks not approved by the State board of Education.

He said that while TFN shares my concerns about local school boards trying to put creationist materials into classrooms, there’s something I missed in my report. The new law also includes a requirement that schools report any such purchases to the Texas Education Agency, which will make it easier for groups like TFN to monitor them and respond if they do purchase creationist textbooks.

He also noted one other thing I missed, which is that textbook decisions at the local level are rarely made by school boards. They’re usually made by teachers and administrators, who tend to be more concerned about how the textbooks will help students score well on standardized tests than anything else because those tests have a real influence on their ability to keep their jobs.

These are both important facts that I left out of my analysis. It’s still a concern, of course, and local school boards can cause all kinds of trouble here and must be watched. But on balance, given those facts, TFN is probably correct to regard this as better than the current system. Thanks to Dan for helping me understand the situation better.