AUSTIN, Texas — This week, the Texas education board is considering how middle schools teach climate change and sexuality.
The board heard public testimony Wednesday about proposed changes to eighth grade science guidelines. Under the proposed curriculum, students are expected to learn how "natural events and human activity can impact global climate." Many who testified say there's no can about it, but the board preliminarily voted to keep the word in there.
Tuesday, the board declined to preliminarily adopt middle and high school health instructional materials that addressed such topics as contraception, gender identity and self-harm. The board will take a final vote on the materials on Friday. If they don’t approve any of the texts, districts will be left to search for their own materials to teach new health curriculum standards approved last year.
This all comes as the battle over what some argue is "inappropriate content" in public schools rages on. Gov. Abbott wants the board to remove books with "overtly sexual" content in school libraries and develop standards for what gets into libraries.
“There are already policies that each school district has relating to selection of materials and the criteria for those. So, it’s sort of a duplication of effort for the state board to weigh in with another set of criteria because it’s set as local board policy in every district in Texas,” said Carolyn Foote, a retired school librarian.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Forth Worth, who's also running for Attorney General, recently identified 850 books he wants reviewed, most of which are about race and sexuality.
“I think a lot of the controversy centers around one or two particular books,” Foote said. “What might be okay in a city like Houston or Austin, might be different if you’re in a small West Texas city. That’s why each board and local community makes those decisions about what is appropriate for their collection because libraries not only support the curriculum, but support leisure reading of students. And you know, we know students are at that age in middle school, but especially in high school, when they’re just trying to figure themselves out, they’re trying to figure out the world.”
Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Foote.