Texas bill would open the door to creationism, says sponsor


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 determined by the State Board of Education," and satisfy general textbook content standards to be defined by the board.

HB 220 would thus restore the Texas Board of Education's ability to micromanage the content of textbooks, which was stripped from it by the legislature in 1995. Kathy Miller, the president of the watchdog Texas Freedom Network, commented [Link broken], "If this bill passes, we will see a diluting of history and science, a narrowing of perspectives and a removal of factual information if it doesn't fit with the personal political and religious beliefs of the majority of state board members." Steven Schafersman, the president of Texas Citizens for Science, predicted that the bill "would return Texas to its Dark Ages of the 1970s and 1980s, when the Texas State Board of Education routinely forced publishers to change textbook content or rejected the books for adoption and use in Texas public schools based on 'viewpoint discrimination or special interest advocacy' as determined by individual powerful Board members."

Howard, the bill's sponsor, recently told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram [Link broken] that HB 220 would enable the board to ensure that creationism was taught alongside evolution and to remove evolution segments from science textbooks. "Some of our books right now only teach evolution, [but] if you're going to teach one, you ought to teach both," he said. "Evolution is a theory. ... It is a theory, it's not a fact. There is no fact for evolution, none. ... Why are we teaching a theory, when we have [another] position -- creation -- that the majority of the people in this country believe?"

HB 220 is presently in the House Public Education Committee. Similar bills presently in the Texas legislature include House Bill 973 and House Bill 2534, according to the Star-Telegram, although neither of those bills seems to have been publicly linked to issues involving evolution education.