Texas’ State Board of Education has approved new textbooks with the direction that evolution be referred to as a theory and the term “pregnant person” be changed to pregnant woman.
During the SBOE’s meetings last week, the board discussed new textbooks for science courses, financial literacy, child development, and technical education. However, the SBOE directed publishers to modify some of the textbooks before approving them for use in Texas classrooms.
One of the topics up for discussion was the use of the term a pregnant person instead of a pregnant woman.
One of the publishers, Goodheart-Wilcox, had the term “pregnant person” in their textbooks. When SBOE member Audrey Young, Chair of the SBOE Committee on Instruction, asked them to remove the term, they rejected her request.
Democrat board members disapproved of the rejection of the textbook, saying there are other ways to say the term. However, the Republican board members held their ground and ultimately rejected the textbook upon the publisher’s refusal to amend the text.
Another discussion item during the textbook approval process was evolution. The board agreed that evolution should be taught as a theory, rather than fact in the approved texts, and that the Intelligent Design theory should be included alongside it.
The Intelligent Design theory maintains that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” Meanwhile, the theory of evolution is based on the idea that all species are related and gradually change over time.
Climate change and its impact on the perception of the oil and gas industry was another major discussion during the meeting. Many board members called on some publishers to provide balanced portrayals of fossil fuels in their materials, as required by state law.
Aaron Kinsey, a Republican SBOE member who also serves as the CEO of American Patrols, an aviation oilfield services company in Midland, voted to reject one textbook because of its depiction of the oil market.
Several textbooks were approved by the board with the direction that the changes requested by the board be implemented into the books.
The revisions to the textbooks were ultimately the result of the decisions being made by the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, following parental and teacher input.
The Texas Education Agency hosted workgroups composed of teachers, parents, and administrators that reviewed the textbooks over the summer.
The SBOE then reviewed the feedback and acted upon the issues identified with the various materials.
Currently, the Republican-majority in the SBOE has ensured that the board is led by Republicans, without any Democrat committee chairs—unlike the Texas House, where important committees overseeing Republican-priority legislation are run by Democrat chairs.
Last week, the Republican-majority Texas House joined teachers unions in voting down school choice legislation that would have also included billions of dollars in teacher pay raises and additional school funding.