You’d have to be pretty clueless to mistake a book called Fake Science 101 as an actual textbook. But administrators in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) aren’t taking any chances.
The Houston Press reported on an internal HISD memo in which an administrator denied a teacher’s request to use the book in the classroom on the grounds that it would bring the veracity of all the district’s textbooks into question and lead to mockery of its educational quality:
“I received one such request for an alternative textbook ‘Fake Science 101.’ I am aware how it would be used, but we are concerned it will reflect poorly on the district. A book like that may be intended humorously, but it is mocking the quality of education in our district.
“We cannot have our district ridiculed as a non-scientific one (see many Westinghouse/Intel awardees). This book is not permissable [sic] for you to distribute or your students to have. Our textbooks are not ‘fake’ and no textbook should give that impression.”
It’s the first such issue the textbook’s author, Phil Edwards, has heard of. He told the Daily Dot he was unaware the book had been banned until the Houston Press contacted him for comment.
Either way, Edwards believes the district’s concerns about mockery or blurring the truth are unfounded. He said he’s often granted teachers permission to use Fake Science, both the blog and the book, in the classroom:
“I can tell you that many teachers use the blog as a visual aid. They will typically use it to spark conversation about a topic and then go from there. In addition, I've received at least one excerpt request from the book for similar purposes.”
Since Edwards hasn’t heard from an HISD teacher or administrator, he can only speculate about what happened.
“I imagine that the teacher using the book in Texas didn't intend it as a full class purchase or curriculum replacement,” he said. “She or he was probably going to buy one copy and work from it, as other teachers have. So it was surprising to hear the news.”
Then again, sometimes the facts of a given situation are far stranger than fiction.
Photo by Phil Edwards