The state of Texas has long been at the center of the battle over creationism in state schools. That’s not only because they keep electing creationists to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), but also because the state is so large that its education standards tend to ripple through the textook publishing industry.
As you may recall, back in 2009 the Discoveroids actively lobbied to get their creationist nonsense into the Texas science standards — see Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre: It’s Over — and now they’re fighting to keep things that way. A couple of months ago, in Texas Science Standards Battle Update, we reported:
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. … 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.
The battle over the state’s standards is approaching a climax. At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog they just posted Texas Board of Education Under Pressure to Make It Harder for Teachers and Students to Evaluate the Evidence for Biological and Chemical Evolution, written by Sarah Chaffee — whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
As we’ve mentioned on EN before [“EN” is Evolution News — the Discoveroids’ creationist blog], Texas is in the middle of its science standards streamlining process. Over the past year, committees have reviewed the standards. Amid much media and Darwin lobby [Hee hee!] pressure, the biology committee presented draft streamlined science standards in the fall. These streamlined standards removed good language [Hee hee!] from the 2009 standards that protected examination of evidence both for and against major origins issues – the fossil record and abrupt appearance, the origins of life, and the complexity of the cell.
In order to read the Discoveroids’ prose, it’s essential to recognize their Orwellian terminology. The “Darwin lobby” refers to sane people who want science taught without creationist pollution, and the Discoveroids regard such pollution as “good.” Then Savvy Sarah says:
The good news [Hee hee!] is that despite intense pressure, the Board of Education tentatively adopted changes to the standards that preserved teachers’ ability to critically analyze scientific evidence regarding biological and chemical evolution.
The “good news” is that Texas teachers can still babble in science class about the “scientific evidence” for intelligent design. After discussing one minor and rather technical change that was proposed, she tells us:
The proposed change is a bad idea. Learning how to evaluate scientific explanations is a key skill needed by future scientists and citizens alike; and students are certainly capable of evaluating scientific claims under the guidance of a teacher. … Furthermore, it misrepresents the science to act as if one can give pat and easy “scientific explanations.” for cellular complexity as if it is a resolved issue. Indeed, the origin of eukaryotic cells remains a great scientific mystery, and students need to know this fact.
Yes, and where there’s a “a great scientific mystery,” the kiddies must be exposed to the possibility of supernatural explanations.
Savvy Sarah then babbles about the famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1953, which synthesized organic compounds from inorganic precursors, and which definitely belongs in science textbooks. The Discoveroids have been trying to dilute its significance in Texas for years — see Casey and the Miller-Urey Experiment, #2. The battle over that is continuing. She says:
What? Teach mainly about Miller-Urey and brush over questions regarding early earth atmospheres? This is right out of Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution. Texas students deserve better than this kind of dogmatic teaching.
“Dogmatic teaching” means teaching science without reference to Oogity Boogity! She concludes her post with this:
The Board of Education will be voting on final adoption of standards at its April 18-21 meeting. They should keep the wording adopted at their January/February meeting, and preserve evaluation of key concepts regarding the evolution and the origin of life. If you are a Texas resident, please weigh in and contact board members!
This shabby affair will be concluded about ten days from now. Science education in Texas has been a mess for years — which thrills the Discoveroids — and it would be surprising if anything changed. But we shall see.
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