Under-the-radar censorship of textbooks
Most likely you never have heard of Neal Frey or the organization he represents. And you certainly never have voted for him because he doesn’t hold an elected office. But he may end up having significant influence over the next science textbooks your students or children use in their classrooms.
The 72-year-old Frey, subject of a Houston Chronicle article linked below, is a self-styled “textbook analyst” for a conservative group called Educational Research Analysts that reviews proposed public school textbooks submitted for adoption by the State Board of Education.
I don’t know if Frey is a scientist or academician. The group’s website doesn’t say. But, according to the Chronicle article, he is dedicated to reviewing textbooks on such issues as their “respect for Judeo-Christian morals” and how they deal with “scientific weaknesses in evolutionary theories.”
Frey and his group seek to convince publishers of health textbooks to “avoid asexual stealth phrases and definitions that covertly legitimize homosexuality.” And a scientific presentation of evolution really gets their goat.
But you may not find Frey testifying at a public hearing before the elected state board because he prefers to work covertly himself by privately contacting publishers directly and convincing them to self-censor their books before the public has a chance to comment on them.
“Lowering our voice and working under opponents’ radar gets better results,” he explains.
According to the Chronicle article, he does get results. A former Texas Education Agency official is quoted as saying he saw “publishers make changes as a result of information from Frey.” The newspaper credits him with being influential when the State Board of Education in 2004 ordered the definition of marriage to be taught as the union between a man and a woman.
Now, the board has begun the process of reviewing curriculum standards for biology, and creationists and other conservatives are up in arms over a review panel’s proposal, backed by scientists, to eliminate anti-evolution language. As the fight plays out, Frey will be lurking out of sight, bending the ears of publishers.