The XX Factor

Texas School Board Stands Up to Science

Over at Seed , Josh Rosenau describes his organization’s long, failed attempt to get the Texas School Board to adopt evolution-friendly standards for the state’s textbooks. Much as I’d like to, I cannot get exercised over this issue; my own public, and later parochial, elementary education was full of so much misinformation (America will run out of landfills by the year 1990! Marijuana kills! New York City is the capital of New York!) that my expectations remain unflappably low.

What I find more interesting is how such a narrow group of political actors effectively controls a wide swath of the the textbook market. Given the size of the state, publishers are likely to tailor their books to conform to the standards set by Texas; the same books are then sold to smaller states, so millions of non-Texan kids read what Texas tells them to read. Or, more precisely, what the 15 people on the Texas School Board tell them to read. Seven of those 15 are creationists, one of whom was moved to shout, during recent hearings, “Someone’s got to stand up to the experts!” Mission accomplished.