Bill Undermining Science Education Introduced in Texas

Silencing Science Tracker

Bill Undermining Science Education Introduced in Texas

On February 9, 2017, a bill (SB 801) was introduced in the Texas legislature that critics say will increase the scope for political interference in science education. If enacted, SB 801 would allow the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), which is comprised of 15 elected officials, many of whom have no teaching experience or scientific training, to challenge content in science or other textbooks that it deems unsuitable “for the subject and grade level for which it was submitted.” This could, according to critics, allow SBOE members “to inject their own ideology or reject a book for other reasons.” A report in the Texas Observer stated:

“Before 1995, the SBOE had sweeping authority over textbook adoption and sometimes used that power to demand that publishers change content for ideological reasons. For instance, a report from the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network notes that the board once ‘pressured a publisher to replace a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase with another showing a woman putting a cake in the oven.’

However, in 1995, the Legislature stripped the SBOE of much of its power over textbooks. Since then, the 15-member board has only been able to reject textbooks that contain factual errors, fail to satisfy at least half of the relevant state curriculum standards, or don’t have quality binding.

SB 801 restores some of the power the SBOE lost in 1995.”

UpdateSB 801 was passed by the Texas Senate on May 4, 2017 and by the Texas House of Representatives on May 24, 2017.

On June 9, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 801 into law.


« Silencing Science Tracker home