|May 2002 Newsletter|
Just say no to anti-intellectualism
Texas' elected State Board of Education (SBOE) has again confirmed the
education establishment's dread of democracy, by nixing viewpoint
discrimination and special-interest advocacy. Last November, all ten
SBOE Republicans rejected a politically-
General textbook content standards differ from rules for individual courses. They tell what all textbooks must do, and prohibit things they must NOT include – such as no blatantly offensive language or illustrations, no sensational violence, no group stereotyping, and no presenting theories as facts. Also, if submitted textbooks miss one individual course requirement, they go onto Texas' "non-conforming" list. But if they violate a single general textbook content standard, the SBOE can reject them – the fate that publishers most fear.
Actually, three high school Environmental "Science" books were under fire in Texas last November. One was withdrawn. Another was revised. Only the third was rejected, whose publisher balked at sufficient changes. The rejected text censored pro-free enterprise counterarguments against environmentalist extremism on "overpopulation," dwindling natural resources ("unsustainability"), and anti-private property rights. That violated a Texas rule requiring discussion of scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories in this particular course.
Yet that would only have put this book on the "nonconforming" list. So why did Texas' elected SBOE reject it instead? Because it breached a general textbook content standard, which says: "Theories shall be clearly distinguished from fact and presented in an objective educational manner." Such reassertion of SBOE power to enforce general textbook content standards is especially timely now. Last year it was texts in one elective Environmental "Science" course. This year Texas evaluates books for all required K-12 Social Studies subjects.
Enforcement of Texas' general textbook content standards means real textbook reform, because rather than tell both sides of an issue, liberals will drop the subject (or minimize its coverage). The more they believe their own propaganda on a topic, the truer this is. Requiring equal emphasis on benefits of free enterprise is the death knell of radical environmentalism. Rather than having to compete with pro-capitalist perspectives in Environmental "Science" textbooks, the left will grudgingly drop its pantheistic, socialistic, anti-developmental agenda there.
Already Texas' elected SBOE is on bureaucrats' hit list, for questioning Goals 2000 "reforms." Already it is under siege by state legislators, for fighting their bids to drain the Permanent School Fund for general revenue. (The Board controls this Fund, which pays for textbooks.) Now comes flak for enforcing general textbook content standards. These are pretexts for replacing Texas' elected SBOE with an appointed Board – a Board more trusting of the education establishment, a Board more pliable by politicians, a Board less responsive to citizens.
Use of more natural resources creates new technology, which: turns useless raw materials into usable resources; obtains and utilizes resources more efficiently; helps develop substitutes; discovers more known reserves; and expands natural resource production in response to price changes.
Known reserves of natural resources usually increase as their rising prices justify searching for more of them. Ultimately recoverable reserves are much greater, and increase further as extractive technologies improve. If resources are getting scarcer, why are they getting cheaper?
Long-run prices trend downward, due to greater resource availability. Speculators discount future scarcities in current prices, encouraging conservation. Most important is not how scarce a natural resource is, but the cost of obtaining it – not its quantity, but how useful each unit can be made through expanding technology.
Population growth: expands markets; improves transportation and communication among them, reducing famines; encourages economies of scale; diversifies production; enlarges the pool of human ingenuity; provides more workers to support retirees; and raises per capita income when "baby boomers" reach maturity.
Low taxes spur investment, increase employment, reward productive consumption, boost real wages, and expand the tax base. This plus legal equality, open opportunity, and private property rights in capitalist economies most efficiently lifts the working poor into the middle class.
Quality of life depends on economic productivity, not population density.
Dense populations have rising living standards where free market policies foster
economic growth. Underproductive socialist systems are
Texas has approved the Grades 6-7 Science programs of three major publishers for 2002 local adoption. State law required them to present scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories. Based on their conformity to this rule in treatment of evolution, they rank as follows:
|Prentice is better overall.||Better||Science Explorer
|Poor||Holt Science & Technology
|Poor||Holt Science & Technology
Why do we rate Science books only by their conformity to state law on evolution? This is important to Texas teachers. In 1998, the two most conforming Biology I books (out of seven) took 58% state market share. In 2000, the two most conforming Grade 5 Science programs (out of four) sold 68% of Texas. In 2002, the two most conforming 6th Grade Science texts outsold the least conforming book by about 4 to 1.
If you live outside Texas, insist on the final Texas editions, which correct factual errors. No publisher funded our reviews in any way. We have no financial stake in any textbook company. Unlike publisher sales reps, we have no monetary interest in any textbook adoption outcome. Our support comes from concerned individuals and a few small foundations, which to our knowledge have no ties to the public school textbook industry.