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On May 10 the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 1172 and forwarded it to the Senate. This bill would restore the State Board of Education's (SBOE) authority to reject textbooks for any reason, a power which has been restricted in recent years by other legislation. Previously Texas had been the scene of spirited creationist attacks on evolution during its textbook adoption process. Because of the size of its educational system Texas exerts considerable influence over publishers and the national textbook marketplace.
On April 29 the South Carolina Senate passed S153 and forwarded it to the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the Committee on Education and Public Works. This bill originally dealt with instructional materials for public schools. On April 9 Sen. Michael Fair proposed an amendment which would have required a disclaimer in all kindergarten through 12th grade science books stating "The cause or causes of life are not scientifically verifiable.
The Louisiana House of Representatives is considering a bill, HB 1782, that "prohibits any branch, department, agency, official, employee, or other entity of state government or of any political subdivision from knowingly printing or distributing material that contains information that is false or fraudulent."
The Justice Department on April 22 announced that it was closing its inquiry into complaints of religious discrimination by Texas Tech student Micah Spradling against biology professor Michael Dini. See the Justice Department’s press release for details.
On April 3, the Blount County Board of Education voted not to adopt three high school biology textbooks because they do not present creationism alongside evolution, according to The Daily Times. The vote to reject the textbooks was 6-1 (contrary to the The Daily Times's previous report that the vote was 2-1 with 4 abstentions). Since the vote, board members have reportedly been inundated with letters and e-mails regarding the vote.
The South Carolina Senate is considering S153, a bill dealing with instructional materials and textbooks. On April 9 an amendment was offered by Sen. Fair with the following key provision:
(B) The following must be placed in all science books published for kindergarten through twelfth grade:
'The cause or causes of life are not scientifically verifiable. Therefore, empirical science cannot provide data about the beginning of life.'
House Bill 1172 is scheduled to be considered by the Public Education Committee of the Texas House of Representatives on April 22. Although concerned mainly with the presentation of patriotism, the free enterprise system, and historical events, the proposed bill also contains this provision: "... the board and each school district shall ensure that ... each controversial issue addressed in the public school curriculum is presented in a balanced manner that reflects multiple viewpoints regarding the issue..."
NCSE Executive Director Dr. Eugenie C. Scott was pleasantly surprised on April 12, 2003 at the Center for Inquiry conference in Washington, DC, at which she received CFI's "The Defense of Science Award" for "her tireless leadership in defending scientific evolution and educational freedom." Congratulations to Dr. Scott!
The Public Education Committee of the Texas House of Representatives recently approved HB 1447, which will now be considered by the House as a whole. This bill would return total control of textbook content to the State Board of Education.