Evolution lessons will stay in Texas biology textbook, board says

Dressed as T-Rex, Sandra Calderon talks with Nick Savelli prior to a State Board of Education public hearing on proposed new science textbooks., on Sept. 17, 2013, in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay / AP file

The debate over the Pearson Biology textbook was the latest episode of a lengthy battle by evangelicals in Texas to insert Christian and Biblical teachings into public school textbooks. 

Two years ago, conservatives pushed for changes in history textbooks, including one that would have downplayed Thomas Jefferson's role in American history for his support of the separation of church and state. That effort was unsuccessful. 

The second-most populous U.S. state, Texas influences textbook selections for schools nationwide.

The reviewer concluded that the text, which includes lessons on natural selection and the Earth's cooling process, are errors that needed to be corrected by publisher Pearson Education, one of the nation's largest producers of school textbooks and a unit of Pearson Plc. 

The opinion caused the board to delay approval of the textbook and appoint a three-member panel of science experts to analyze the book's lessons and report any factual mistakes. 

"The professors didn't recommend any changes so the book is now approved," Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said in an email. "Schools can purchase it this spring for use in the fall." 

Until the expert panel ruled, Pearson was not able to market its book as approved by the board to school districts in Texas. 

The state's more than 1,000 public school districts are permitted to order their own books and materials, but most follow the state-approved list.