AUSTIN, Texas — In recent months, disgraced Gov. Greg Abbott’s government overreach has crossed the line into downright authoritarianism — from his dystopian abortion ban, to his assault on democracy, to his effort to place classrooms under political control. Now, in addition to trying to stop kids from being able to learn in a safe, age-appropriate way about racism, sexism, and sexuality, Abbott is trying to stop educators from teaching accurate climate science.
Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported that an upcoming State Board of Education meeting will cover how climate change and sexuality are taught to middle school students — amid more and more government intrusion into school libraries’ decisions, specifically targeting students’ access to LGBTQ+ representation. However, scientists are also concerned about the censorship of accurate climate education. In a November 4 letter, nearly 70 scientists from across the state voiced their fear that Texas politicians are clawing back kids’ ability to get real climate education. The letter notes that “76 percent — more than three in four — of Texans agree that schools should teach about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s estimate.”
Abbott’s censorship crusade flies in the face of these numbers, and is part of a larger Republican effort to tighten the vise of political control in Texans’ lives — from his multi-year effort to stop local leaders from taking steps to protect people from COVID, to his insistence on putting classrooms at the whim of a handful of extremist politicians. Parents and teachers are working to make sure kids and teens can grow up safe and empowered — and get the chance to learn about the world they’re part of in a safe, age-appropriate, empowering way. Abbott’s agenda seeks to do the opposite, by taking education out of the hands of teachers and parents, and twisting it to suit the agenda of a small group of politicians — with no expertise on education or child development.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Parents and teachers are the experts on kids and classrooms — not politicians. But right now, Greg Abbott is continuing with his censorship crusade, and trying to place our classrooms under the rigid control of a handful of extremist politicians with no experience educating kids and no knowledge of child development. That’s backwards. Racism, sexism, economic inequality — these are real things that affect the lives of our kids and the world around them. Kids and teens need to have a safe environment to learn about their world in an age-appropriate way — not to have their lived experience and reality erased from the textbooks because a couple politicians are threatened by it.
“Teachers and parents want what’s best for young people in Texas: they want our kids and teens to grow up safe and empowered, and get the chance to learn about the world around them in a safe, age-appropriate, empowering way. Unfortunately, Republican politicians clearly feel differently — and with Greg Abbott attacking Texans in a hundred other ways this year, it’s sadly no surprise that he’s found a new front in his war on our kids and families. Texas Democrats will keep listening to teachers and parents and standing with Texas families. We will keep fighting to elect leaders who, unlike Abbott, are willing to put millions of Texas families above the career ambitions of a single selfish politician.”