Background Information: How the Texas Education Agency subverted Texas law in order to protect textbook errors regarding evolution.

Texas law clearly requires textbooks to be “free from factual errors” (Texas Education Code, § 31.023). Accordingly, TEA Chief Deputy Commissioner Robert Scott pledged last fall that all remaining biology textbook errors and alleged errors would have to be addressed by publishers before the textbooks were finally certified by his agency. This included a list of errors submitted by Discovery Institute outlining remaining errors dealing with evolution as well as the history of science. Discovery Institute’s list was supposed to be forwarded to publishers for a response.

The errors remain, and the DI list was not treated with the same level of importance as the others.  It turned out that the TEA bureaucracy had no intention of sending the list to publishers.  Only after considerable prodding did the TEA relent and at least forward the list to publishers in December.  But then the TEA made no effort to ensure that the publishers actually responded.  Indeed, the TEA bureaucrats did their best to sandbag the whole process. As a result:

***Two publishers, Thomson Learning and Bedford Freeman Worth, refused to respond at all to the errors identified by Discovery Institute, and the TEA thusfar has declined to require them to respond.

***Another publisher, LeBel, submitted a brief “response” to identified errors refusing to make any changes but citing no evidence to back up its refusal. Notably, LeBel’s textbook contains several errors that other publishers have already agreed to fix. But the TEA has refused to require LeBel to submit a real response to the errors identified in its text. The TEA’s own pro-evolution consultant has agreed with some of the errors identified in this text by Discovery Institute, but the TEA won’t even force LeBel to fix those errors!

***Prentice-Hall submitted a response to the TEA that relied on scientific citations later shown to be false. Again, no effort has been made by the TEA to require Prentice-Hall to submit real evidence to justify the problems that have been identified in its textbook.

As a result of TEA’s refusal to enforce the law, Texas students will be subjected to biology textbooks that continue to present factually false information overstating the evidence for evolution. A list of some of the remaining contradictions and errors is provided below.

Selected Remaining Biology Textbook Errors

Bogus Embryology. Three textbooks (Holt, Prentice Hall, and LeBel) incorrectly state that vertebrate limbs develop in the same way in all vertebrate embryos. Three textbooks (LeBel, Prentice Hall, and Thomson) also wrongly imply that vertebrate embryos are the most similar in their earliest stages of development and only become different later. The actual pattern of vertebrate development is (i) early dis-similarity followed by (ii) similarity midway through development, followed by (iii) later dis-similarity. This pattern is a anomaly from the standpoint of Darwin's theory, not a confirmation of that theory. Extensive documentation refuting these incorrect textbook claims about embryology has been submitted to the TEA, but the TEA has disregarded the documentation.

Peppered Moths. Two textbooks (LeBel and Thomson) continue to present outdated claims about microevolution in peppered moths. Other textbooks have either dropped or qualified their discussions of peppered moth research. But the TEA has refused to make the two hold-out publishers bring their textbooks in line with current research.

Miller-Urey and the Origin of Life. Two textbooks (Bedford Freeman Worth and Thomson) continue to mislead students into thinking that the Miller-Urey origin of life experiment was based on current beliefs about the earth’s early atmosphere. In fact, the Earth's early atmosphere was probably quite different from the mixture of gases used in the experiment. Again, other textbooks now provide this information, but the TEA refuses to make the remaining publishers update their texts.

Flat earth myth. The LeBel text perpetuates the myth that Europeans prior to 1500 believed in a flat earth and wrongly claims that Columbus’s belief in a round earth “caused considerable controversy.” The TEA’s own consultant agrees with Discovery Institute on this point, but the TEA still won’t make LeBel make the correction!

Killing of Scientists myth. The LeBel text also falsely claims that “some scientists were executed for teaching that Earth and other planets orbited the sun.” Again, the TEA’s own consultant agrees with Discovery Institute on this point, but the TEA won’t make LeBel make the correction.

Dating the Cambrian Explosion. One text (Holt) continues to wildly misstate the standard dating of the Cambrian Explosion. Holt originally claimed that the Cambrian Explosion took "160 million years." Then it claimed that it took "30 to 160 million years." Now it is willing to state that "most estimates range from 10 to 100 million years." In reality, the best standard estimate is probably 5-10 million years.