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Radio Documentary To Explore Classroom Culture Wars In Texas -- Airs 9 PM Saturday On KERA 90.1 FM

Protesters gathered outside a State Board of Education meeting earlier this year.

A documentary airing again this weekend looks at classroom culture war battles that have taken place in Texas over the past 50 years.

“The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom” airs at 9 p.m. Saturday on KERA 90.1 FM. (It first aired Dec. 15 on KERA.) You can also listen to it here.

Here’s how producer Trey Kay describes the program:

For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms.  While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck. Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.  For “Long Game,” producer Trey Kay spent nearly two years gathering interviews. He captured a new controversy that erupted over a Texas-generated curriculum system known as CSCOPE. Tea party parents were outraged when they discovered there were CSCOPE lessons that equated Boston Tea Party participants to terrorists and encouraged students to design a flag for a new communist country. These parents were also troubled by lessons that taught the fundamental principles of Islam. When the parents asked to see more of their children’s lessons, they were told that CSCOPE material was protected by a non-disclosure agreement and that parents couldn’t have access. The controversy reached critical mass after conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began speaking to his national audience about CSCOPE as a form of leftist indoctrination that was running rampant in Texas and could potentially appear in public schools in other states. After about six months of intense media and political pressure, the lesson-plan wing of CSCOPE – used in over 70 percent of Texas schools – was disbanded. Kay’s report also examines Texas’ perennial battle over science standards and in particular, how the state chooses to teach all things related to the origins of the universe and theory of evolution. This fall, the Texas Board of Education has been selecting biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade. The panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.

The board last month delayed final approval of a widely used biology textbook “because of concerns raised by one reviewer that it presents evolution as fact rather than theory,” The New York Times reported.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.