Texas Textbook Controversy: The continuing saga of the Texas State School Board’s multi-year process of adopting new science textbooks is drawing to a close. The Board has been dominated by religious conservatives who oppose teaching evolution and climate change in public schools. Concerned residents, civil liberties groups, educators and scientists are urging the Board to adopt a slate of books that are accepted by the scientific community so that science can actually be taught in Texas classrooms. Texas has historically exerted enormous influence on the national textbook market. Textbook publishers write for Texas and what sells there is marketed around the country. However, reputable publishers have resisted pressure from Texas officials, many of whom are religious conservatives, to produce books that give equal time to alternative theories, such as Intelligent Design, long recognized as a thinly-veiled brand of creationism. Some analysts are hopeful that this may signal the beginning of the end of Texas’ disproportionate influence over textbook and curriculum choices. A final decision is expected Friday.
Remember John Freshwater? He is the public school teacher who kept open Bibles and hung posters with Bible verses in his classroom. He also branded crosses into some of his students with a Tesla coil. John Freshwater’s termination for insubordination was upheld by the Ohio State Supreme Court. The court refused to address whether Freshwater had improperly introduced religious practices and teachings into his public school science classroom. Instead, the court said that his refusal to comply with reasonable directives from school administrators constituted insubordination which justified the school board’s action.
Mayflower Pipeline: Arkansas residents and environmentalists are calling for the pipeline that spilled thousands of gallons of dilbit oil into a residential subdivision and neighboring wetlands to be permanently shut down. The federal government fined ExxonMobil $2.6 million for violations that lead to the spill back in March. ExxonMobil has disputed those findings.