Texas Creationism Bill for 2017, and More

They don’t do things half-way in Texas. Besides the bureaucratic blundering about the state’s science standards for public schools, which so far will still include creationist language advocated by the Discovery Institute, now they’re considering another creationism bill in the state legislature.

The last time we wrote about the actions of the Texas Board of Education was Texas Science Standards Battle Update, where we learned that the Board had preliminarily voted to twiddle a bit with the state high school science curriculum requirements, but their text books will still include doubts about evolution.

That was the result of the Board’s preliminary vote on Wednesday. They voted again yesterday, and there weren’t any surprises. In the Austin American-Statesman we read State panel gives early OK for curriculum that challenges evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval Friday to biology curriculum for public high school students that challenges the theory of evolution. The vote gives the Texas Education Agency the OK to post the curriculum changes, which are similar to standards already in place, to the Texas Register so that the public can offer input.

The Board ignored the testimony of science experts, and the public’s input won’t have any effect either. Then the news story says:

The biology curriculum would require students to evaluate the complexity of cells, the origin of DNA and life, and examine explanations of abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil records. Supporters of the standards have said that the theory of evolution can’t readily explain these scientific events.

A final decision won’t be made until April. We doubt that much will change.

And then there’s even more Texas creationism news. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just posted Antiscience legislation in Texas. They say, with our bold font:

House Bill 1485, introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on February 2, 2017, is the fourth antiscience bill of the year, joining similar bills in Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. If enacted, the bill would ostensibly provide Texas science teachers with the academic freedom to teach "the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories" covered in the state science standards.

[*Groan*] It’s yet another example of the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom bill. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

The Houston Chronicle, in Houston-area lawmaker files creationism bill, reports, with our bold font:

House Bill 1485, filed this week by Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would require elected education officials and school leaders to assist teachers presenting scientific subjects that “may cause controversy,” specifically climate change, biological evolution, the origins of life and human cloning. Critics say her bill will protect those teaching creationism.

“Teachers should have the freedom to investigate and teach evidence-based science, including strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, in order to instill scientific critical thinking skills in their students,” Swanson said in a press release.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It sounds like her press release was prepared by the Discovery Institute. The newspaper also says:

The bill amounts a “get out of jail free card to maverick teachers,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., which watchdogs legislative attempts to permit the teaching of creationism. He said the bill would block administrators and school boards from reprimanding teachers who focus science teachings on divine creation, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled teaching creationism is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

This is the legislature’s page with information on the bill’s sponsor: Valoree Swanson. She’s new in the legislature and she hasn’t yet submitted any biographical information. Here’s a link where you can track the progress of HB 1485. The legislature will be in session until 29 May, so they have plenty of time to deal with this mess. We’ll be watching.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Texas Creationism Bill for 2017, and More

  1. These people are feeling extremely empowered as the alternative fact Era of Endarkenment descends.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  2. Valoree Swanson is very, very dim and simple minded. Of course she’s a Republican, homeschooled her kids and is a “devout Christian.” The first bill she submitted, the “Physician Abortion Ban,” would remove a physician’s medical license for performing a “unnecessary” abortion. Swanson also supports measures to deny spouses of same sex couples insurance and government benefits. She has no background in science or education, but that goes without saying. And, apparently, she knows nothing about the Constitution, but she’s a Republican and I repeat myself.

  3. Of course, these bills are mainly about proclaiming one’s “conservative credentials” to voters. There’s also a proud “I am defending all that is good on your behalf!” to it.

  4. Consistency is not highly valued among creationists.

  5. There are plenty of Republicans who are horrified at the growing power of the fundamentalist right within their party. Unfortunately they’re being shouted down by the crazies, one of whom, apparently, is now a heartbeat away from the presidency.

  6. Now this happened years ago. A female Texas legislator was opposed to including Spanish language materials in Texas government publications. She held up the bible and said if English was good enough for Jesus then it is good enough for Texas.

    How do you even begin a conversation with this sort of person?

  7. Kevin Murphy asks

    How do you even begin a conversation with this sort of person?

    With “¡Hola!”?

    And then continue the conversation with, “¡Eres un idiota!”