BACKGROUND: The Texas Board of Education (BOE), which is dominated by creationists, is currently deciding whether it should keep the anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly “strengths and weaknesses” language in the state’s current standards for science education. They’ve had one hearing on this, and today is the second hearing.
The BOE has assembled a six-member “panel of experts” to testify, but half are creationists. Thus the stage has been set for the pre-arranged conclusion that a “controversy” exists about the theory of evolution, therefore its “weaknesses” must be taught in science class. The media in Texas have been mildly pro-science, but not nearly enough. A roundup of this morning’s news is disappointing, considering that the hearing is today:
From the Dallas Morning News: Public hearing centers on how Texas should teach evolution . Excerpts:
Curriculum review committees made up of science teachers and academics recommended last year that the state scrap its long-standing requirement that strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories – notably evolution – be covered in science classes.
One panel that drafted standards for biology classes proposed additional language that would keep supernatural and religious-based concepts such as creationism – the biblical explanation of how humans evolved – out of those classes.
No supernaturalism in science? The BOE can’t allow that; it would be blasphemy!
But social conservatives on the state board and their allies – including evolution critics – want to preserve the requirement in the curriculum standards established by the board. A preliminary board vote is scheduled for Thursday.
If being a “social conservative” means being a creationist, then your Curmudgeon is an anti-social conservative. Harrumph!
Now lets turn to the Beaumont Enterprise: State Board of Education should support real science. It’s the best of this morning’s articles, and it’s brief, so here’s the whole thing:
The State Board of Education has to face some thorny issues, but today’s meeting is – or should be – pretty straightforward. It boils down to this: Should science classes in public schools teach science, or something else?
The logical answer is that they should teach science, of course. That includes evolution. Virtually all scientists and educators believe that the earth is billions of years old and that life forms evolved over long periods through natural selection.
Unfortunately, advocates of creationism or intelligent design want to change state guidelines on science curriculum to “analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations” of scientific theory. That may sound innocent, but it’s like saying that science classes should question other scientific realities like gravity or the rotation of the earth.
Modern science does not need to conflict with anyone’s religious beliefs. Anyone who thinks it does should be able to argue that position in churches or on street corners. But not in public school classrooms.
This is from the Houston Chronicle: Evolution debate in spotlight at education board meeting. This doesn’t say much, and what it does say isn’t very informative:
The debate over teaching evolution in public schools will take center stage today during a State Board of Education hearing on proposed revisions to Texas’ science curriculum.
The board is in the process of deciding what language will guide Texas science teachers in the classroom for the next 10 years.
The evolution portion has drawn attention from both sides of the debate.
A six-member panel has recommended the curriculum say students should be able to “analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations” of scientific theory. Religious freedom activists and scientists are protesting the change.
So that’s it. We’ve previously said that a boycott by the rational witnesses would be preferable to participating in what we fully expect will be a farce, but they’re all grownups, so things will play out as they think is best. However they choose to play it, we don’t anticipate any pro-science results.
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