After intense public pressure, including a Daily KOS petition that gathered more than 78,000 signatures and a massive campaign by the Texas Freedom Network, textbook publisher Pearson Education has removed content within its Texas textbooks that provides inaccurate information on climate change.
The Pearson publications were among a group of proposed social studies textbooks in Texas that, according to a study from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), contained text suggesting that there was significant debate over whether carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels led to climate change.
In an excerpt from the original proposed text for the 5th grade Pearson-published social studies textbook Specific Areas of Concern, the textbook casts doubt on climate change, saying, “Burning oil to run cars also releases carbon dioxide… Some scientists believe that this carbon dioxide could lead to a slow heating of the Earth’s overall climate… Scientists disagree about what is causing climate change.”
Pearson did not respond to Planet Experts for comment at press time, but the revised text omits the passage about scientists disagreeing, according to The National Journal.
McGraw-Hill, one of the largest textbook publishers in the world, also announced revisions to their Texas social studies texts. However, their revisions still leave room for doubt regarding the science of climate change. While representatives from McGraw-Hill did not respond to Planet Experts for comment, the revised version of their text states that, “Scientists agree that Earth’s climates are changing. Not all individuals, however, agree on the causes of these changes.”
Texas has frequently been a battleground state for textbook content in public schools, including repeated efforts to incorporate creationism into science texts. The Texas Freedom Network, which has been heavily involved in coordinating the public effort to revise the texts, will be delivering the Pearson petition and a new petition requesting McGraw-Hill also change their text to the Texas State Board of Education on Tuesday, November 18.
When reached for comment, the Texas Education Agency declined to comment on how the Board of Education was planning on responding to the petitions, stating that the issues cannot be discussed by the board outside the auspices of an open meeting.
The Texas Board of Education meeting will be livecast online tomorrow evening at the Texas Education Agency website.
Update: 11/17/14 3:24 PM
According to a press release from the Texas Freedom Network, textbook publisher McGraw-Hill confirmed its intentions to edit its textbooks to remove content espousing climate change denial. The revised content includes a controversial passage in a social studies textbook which gives the same factual standing to arguments against climate change made by the political interest group the Heartland Institute as hard statistical data provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In the press release, Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller said, “We applaud these publishers for responsibly listening to scholars and the tens of thousands of people from across the country who have signed petitions insisting that the textbooks put education and facts ahead of politics.”
Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, added that, “Pearson, McGraw-Hill and the other publishers did the right thing by making these changes. They listened to us and the nation’s leading scientific and educational societies, ensuring that students will learn the truth about the greatest challenge they’ll confront as citizens of the 21st century.”