AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Board of Education imposed tighter rules Friday on the citizen review panels that scrutinize proposed textbooks, potentially softening fights over evolution, religion's role in U.S. history and other ideological matters that have long seeped into what students learn in school.
Tension over the issue has been building for years in the country's second most populous state, where the textbook market is so large that changes can affect the industry nationwide. Critics complain that a few activists with religious or political objections have too much power to shape what the state's more than 5 million public school students are taught.
Among the changes approved Friday was a mandate that teachers or professors be given priority for serving on the textbook review panels for subjects in their areas of expertise. They also enable the board to appoint outside experts to check objections raised by review panels and ensure they are based on fact, not ideology.
"It won't eliminate politics, but it will make it where it's a more informed process," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican board member who pushed for the changes, which he said "force us to find qualified people, leave them alone, and let them do their jobs."
The new rules were unanimously approved.Hopefully this'll keep Creationist and other Bible-thumping shenanigans to a minimum.