Last week we posted Texas Creationism: Big Shootout Next Week. Tomorrow is the big day. The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will vote on 22 November to decide which new science textbooks and online instructional materials can be adopted by Texas public schools for the next decade.
The consensus of opinion is that things will go well for science education, and the creationists will be unable to force textbook publishers to alter their books to include creationist nonsense. For example, the Dallas Morning News has this story: State education board unlikely to add evolution disclaimers to science books, which says:
Coverage of evolution in new high school science books in Texas appears likely to escape the major disclaimers that social conservatives and other critics seek.
So far, major publishers have resisted social conservatives’ efforts to add questions about key elements of the theory of evolution.
“I don’t see any major changes coming,” said board Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant. “I believe the books will get approved without incident.”
Then they give a bit of historical context:
Four years ago, when it adopted standards for what must be taught in Texas science classes, the board stripped out a requirement to teach “weaknesses” of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but had a heated debate, driven by a bloc of seven social conservatives. The following year, they [the creationists] won inclusion of several conservative political figures and issues in the state’s social studies curriculum.
We remember that. In Texas Education Chainsaw Massacre: Part 3, we referred to that ploy as the creationists’ Plan B. The newly-added creationist code words were “analyze and evaluate” instead of “strengths and weaknesses.” Also, Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist, pushed through an amendment that directs science teachers and students to “describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.” As a result, we predicted that there would be revised textbooks designed to confuse students. That’s the battle which is being played out now.
Nevertheless, advocates of sane science education are optimistic. The National Center for Science Education posted Creationism’s last stand in Texas?, which says: “[T]he signs are that the publishers are not willing to capitulate …”
Even the Discoveroids appear to be depressed. A few days ago they posted Texas Set to Adopt Textbooks that Disregard State Science Standards Requiring Critical Evaluation of Evolutionary Theory. Appearing to concede the inevitable defeat, they wrote, with our bold font added for emphasis:
The Texas State Board of Education looks set to approve science textbooks this week that fail to comply with state science standards requiring students to “analyze and evaluate” core evolutionary claims, according to a Discovery Institute scholar who advised the Board before it adopted the standards.
Who was that “Discovery Institute scholar”? They tell us:
Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of the New York Times bestselling book Darwin’s Doubt, served as a Board-appointed expert reviewer of the Texas science standards when the standards were originally developed in 2009.
Ah, he may have been the architect of Plan B. Let’s read on:
Meyer expressed concerns that proposed textbooks would “leave students in the dark about contemporary mainstream scientific controversies over Darwinian evolution. Students should be trained to think independently, rather than be drilled in rote fashion. Unfortunately, because Texas is a major purchaser of textbooks, the Board’s action may have an adverse impact on science education across America for years to come.”
So is the game over? Has science won? Will the Board’s decision tomorrow be a victory for sanity and a defeat for the creationists? Everyone seems to think so, but your Curmudgeon isn’t so sure. We haven’t forgotten their Plan B from four years ago, and how it took everyone by surprise. We’re expecting them have something cooked up for tomorrow — a new Plan B — designed to throw Texas science education into chaos for years to come.
If we’re wrong about this, we’ll be delighted. But we don’t trust those people, and neither should you. So we’ll be watching how things turn out tomorrow, and we caution everyone involved: Beware of Plan B!
Further, we repeat the Curmudgeon’s Dictum which is universally applicable when dealing with creationists: Don’t bring a slide rule to a knife fight!
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