Texas Science Standards Battle Update

A few months ago we wrote Creationism Battle in Texas Is Heating Up, in which we said:

The Discovery Institute is shifting into high gear for the struggle to preserve their creationist gains in Texas. … Texas is trying to revise their public school science standards for biology, which were last revised in 2009 to include a requirement (backed by the Discoveroids) for students to analyze “all sides of scientific evidence” for evolution.

There’s a bit of news on that bureaucratic effort. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Texas votes to change science lessons challenging evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The Texas Board of Education has preliminarily voted to ease — but not completely eliminate — state high school science curriculum requirements that experts argued cast doubt on the theory of evolution. The Republican-controlled board on Wednesday modified language that had asked biology students to consider “all sides” of scientific theory.

Well, that’s a bit of good news — even if it’s only a preliminary vote. The news isn’t all good, however. We’re also told:

But the board opted to keep other lessons on the origin of life and scrutinizing fossil record gaps, which some conservatives say suggests the influence of a higher power.

There must be a load of back-room activity, with sane people and creationists furiously lobbying the Board. One last excerpt:

The board votes again Friday and in April. It could further modify curriculums either time.

There’s another story on this in the San Antonio Current, and it’s more negative: Texas Board of Education Votes to Keep Evolution-Doubting Language in High School Biology Textbooks . That tells us, with our bold font:

Evolution skeptics on the State Board of Education voted against updating Texas’ 9th grade biology textbook to reflect scientific fact on Wednesday.

That doesn’t sound good. The news story continues:

The board’s decision comes after a 10-member committee of educators and biology experts (formed by the board) recommended that the state pull four phrases from Texas’ 9th grade biology textbook that could leave students doubting proven science. The phrases, creatively shrouded in jargon, ask students to “analyze and evaluate” various evolutionary processes, including the “complexity of the cell” and “proposed transitional fossils.”

Back in 2009 the Discoveroids actively lobbied to get that nonsense in the Texas standards — see Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre: It’s Over — and now they’re fighting to keep them there. Let’s read on:

This vote comes a day after board members heard testimony from dozens of experts, advocates, professors, and students supporting a recommendation that the board update these textbooks. There were only a few opponents to the recommendation that spoke from creationist organizations.

But the Board didn’t pay much attention to the experts. One last excerpt:

The state board will cast its final vote on the recommendations in April. But with majority Republican members, science education advocates say the board will likely stick with its evolution-doubting textbook.

So there you are. It isn’t over, but it isn’t going very well. What did you expect? We’re talking about Texas.

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3 responses to “Texas Science Standards Battle Update

  1. Ross Cameron

    You have to be near brain-dead if you don`t connect the dots–evolution ->science->medicine->saves lives of creationists

  2. I want to know how many topics in textbooks K-12 give students opportunity to learn the “strengths and weaknesses”? How about the Germ Theory of Disease? Law of Universal Gravitation? Tea Party Politics? Astrology?

    When I was in school, we learned what was in the science, mathematics, geography, and English grammar textbooks without pausing to consider the “strengths and weaknesses” of anything. We assumed that “alternative facts” were left out.

    We didn’t waste time learning why somebody somewhere thought Isaac Newton was “an evil scientist” and that his Laws of Motion were an atheist plot to deceive young people. I don’t think it ever occurred to us.

  3. Here in Pennsylvania public schools are funded with local property taxes. Repubs are pushing to replace with funding through state sales tax. My suspicion is this would give state level Repubs more control over school district level curriculum decisions, i.e. “academic freedom.” Is my suspicion justified? How can I find out?

    Having been through Kitzmiller v. Dover and former PA senator/theocrat Santorum’s antics my radar is on high alert.