The Texas State Board of Education has revamped how they select people to review school textbooks prior to their adoption. Some on the board were critical of how panelists were selected during the adoption of this year’s science textbook.
During the last round of book reviews it was revealed that some of those selected to review textbooks did not have a background in biology and were supporting teaching creationism, attempting to skew how books explained the Theory of Evolution.
During last week’s meeting, the board limited the use of public citizen panelists, relying more on teachers for reviewing science and social studies textbooks.
"The education commissioner will help fill out these panels to make sure we have a good cross-section of educators and experts and parents and business people and try to make sure it’s a good, rounded process," said SBOE member Thomas Ratliff.
"There were rumors and allegations of state board members meddling in the process," Ratliff said. "I’m not addressing that, I’m just trying to make sure that if there is an issue that this will address that. But we will find qualified people, we will appoint them and let them alone and do their job."
Ratliff said this was not a reaction to situations during the last round of reviews where state board members put themselves in the middle of these reviews, attempting to change the outcome of the content.
"I’ve had these concepts about our textbook rules in my head and on paper for many months, so this is not a reaction to anything," Ratliff said. "I will say I wanted them in place before social studies."
Ratliff said reviewing subject matter for social studies textbook has in the past proven to be one of the most politically-charged discussions and he wanted to make sure the process was as balanced and transparent as possible before panelist began reviewing the books this spring.