Board votes to omit 13 chapters with 'controversial' topics from 25 Cy-Fair ISD textbooks

Chaz Miller Image
Thursday, May 9, 2024
Board votes to omit 'controversial' topics from Cy-Fair ISD textbooks
Cy-Fair ISD trustees voted to omit topics deemed controversial from textbooks across the district in a board meeting on Monday.

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- After several hours of discussing staff reductions due to the impending fiscal year 2024-25 budget cuts during the May 6 board meeting, Cy-Fair ISD trustees voted 6-1 to omit 13 chapters from 25 textbooks that will be used next school year.

What happened

School board members were supposed to vote on a list of textbooks to adapt for the 2024-2025 school year. Those books had been approved by the State Board of Education, but board member Dr. Natalie Blasingame introduced an amendment before the vote could take place.

She proposed accepting the list of books but getting rid of certain chapters in them.

Blasingame made the motion to omit chapters from textbooks in the following areas:

  • Biology

  • Environmental science

  • Earth systems

  • Principles of education and training

  • Health science theory clinicals

Blasingame said some of the information being omitted went beyond what the state requires the district to teach, adding that some of the information also creates "a perception that humans are bad."

She and other board members cited concerns around "controversial subjects" included in the textbooks, such as climate change, vaccines, COVID-19, depopulation, and "a perspective that humans are bad," Blasingame said.

The only member of the board who voted against it was Trustee Julie Hinaman.

Despite omitting certain chapters, CFISD educators must still cover topics outlined in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state's standards for what students should learn in public schools.

To ensure the district meets state standards, district officials must use other resources to write their own curriculum covering these topics, Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said.

"As far as staff to get it done, we're going to struggle because we have lost a lot of staff at the district office. Our campuses are used to having the curriculum ready, or a lot of it ready by the time school starts," Macias said. "It may be that they're getting two weeks at a time, and then during those two weeks, we're providing the next two weeks (of curriculum)."

The background

This item was on the board's agenda in April, but trustees postponed the vote to allow more time to review the recommended textbooks.

A committee of expert educators reviewed the materials and recommended each book that was considered, Macias said at the April 1 board work session.

Hinaman, the sole trustee to vote against the omissions, questioned whether the district has adequate time and resources to execute this plan amid position reductions and the end of the school year nearing. She said she supported approving the instructional materials exactly as they were recommended.

"I am not clear on why one board member chose to override the recommendations of our highly trained educators who selected these materials for next school year that have been approved by the State Board of Education," she said.

What's next

Macias said developing a classroom curriculum is time-consuming, so it will be more difficult without the textbook resources. Without it, she said educators will likely use other resources they already have or purchase supplementary resources to ensure the state standards are being covered.

"We typically do a very thorough curriculum-writing aspect when we do curriculum," she said. "As Mrs. Hinaman said, we have quite a few less staff to do that, so we are going to have to probably rely more on the campuses or those teachers to go through some of their materials."

The state representative for CFISD, Jon Rosenthal, told Eyewitness News that he will do whatever he can to reverse this, by whatever avenues are available.

ABC13 reached out to Blasingame but has yet to hear back.

Some parents aren't in favor

Ashley Buckner has one child in the district and another one on the way.

"I thought it was a lot of overreach. They're kind of imposing their personal beliefs on what they think our children should learn," Buckner said.

ABC13 asked CFISD how they'll go about omitting these chapters but has yet to hear back. However, board members mentioned removing the chapters and even having new materials written by individuals in-house.

Danica Lloyd with Community Impact Newspapers contributed to this report. For news updates, follow Chaz Miller on Facebook, X and Instagram.