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Norma Gabler, the conservative textbook activist, died on July 22, 2007, at the age of 84, in Phoenix, Arizona. Born Norma Elizabeth Rhodes in Garrett, Texas, on June 16, 1923, she married Mel Gabler (1915-2004) in 1942. The couple was known for their critiques of textbooks used in Texas's public schools. They began to scrutinize textbooks for hints of "secular humanism" in 1961, after finding errors in one of their son's textbooks.
On July 17, 2007, Don McLeroy was appointed by Texas governor Rick Perry (R) to chair the state board of education, succeeding Geraldine Miller.
The attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott, recently reaffirmed the standing interpretation of the 1995 state law that restricts the power of the Texas state board of education to review and reject the content of textbooks used in the public schools. Abbott's opinion, issued on September 18, 2006, was in response to a request from board member Terri Leo (District 6), who was among the most vocal critics of the eleven biology textbooks under review by the board in 2003.
House Bill 220, introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on December 14, 2004, by Representative Charlie Howard (R-Sugar Land), would, if enacted, amend the state's education code to require that textbooks approved by the state be free from factual errors, "including errors of commission or omission related to viewpoint discrimination or special interest advocacy on major issues, as
On Friday, November 7, the Texas State Board of Education (SBoE) voted 11-4 to place all submitted high school and advanced placement (AP) biology books on the “conforming” list, making them eligible for adoption by local districts.
On November 6, 2003, the Texas Board of Education voted to place all eleven biology textbooks under consideration on the approved list, despite protests of antievolutionist groups about the treatment of evolution in the books. The 11-4 vote was preliminary, and the final vote will take place on November 7.
On November 1, 2003, a statement was released urging the Texas Board of Education to resist pressure on it to undermine the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks now under consideration. Signed by over 550 Texas scientists and educators, the statement observes that "Any dilution in textbooks of the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution should sound an alarm to every parent and teacher."
An op-ed piece by Alfred Gilman, who was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Medicine, and signed by sixteen members of the National Academy of Science and/or the Institute of Medicine, including three other Nobel laureates, appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, September 21, 2003. All of the signatories live and work in north Texas.
A standing-room-only crowd attended the hearing on biology textbooks before the Texas Board of Education in Austin on September 10. More than 160 people signed up to speak before the board, and the testimony continued into the wee hours.
"Evolution is a normal part of science and should be treated the same way as all other scientific ideas." That was the message to Texas authorities from the authors of leading biology textbooks, delivered on September 8 in a statement jointly released by Texas Citizens for Science and the National Center for Science Education. The authors, who are scientists and educators, also stated, "It is a disservice to students to mislead them about the important position that evolution holds in biological and other sciences."