Texas Science Standards Are Now Revised

The long-awaited decision of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) regarding the state high school science curriculum has been accomplished. As you know, back in 2009 the Discovery Institute 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.

The last time we wrote about the situation was a few days ago: Discoveroids and the Texas Science Standards. The Discoveroids were praising an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News that was written by a creationist. What they’ve been hoping for is to either keep the existing standards intact — because they encourage creationism in science classes — or else they want to hold the changes to an absolute minimum.

Well, now we know what happened. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education have just posted Victory in Texas. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

In a victory for the integrity of science education in Texas, the Texas state board of education approved a revision to the state science standards that removed language that opened the door to creationism.

Wow — was the Discoveroids language removed? They say:

At issue were four standards inserted into the Texas state science standards by members of the state board of education, without input from scientists and educators, during the last revision of the standards in 2009. The objectionable standards called for students to analyze “all sides of scientific evidence” and to evaluate “sudden appearance, stasis” in the fossil record, “the complexity of the cell,” and “the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.”

It seems, however that there were some compromises. NCSE reports:

Although the board decided not to remove the fossil record standard as recommended by the panel, it accepted a version of the standard that the panel suggested as a possible alternative not as problematic as the original.

The 2009 standards required students to:

analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record

Presumably they only removed the word “analyze.” Not much of a change. NCSE also says:

And the board voted to retain the complexity standard and the DNA standard, revised to require students to “evaluate” [instead of “analyze”] scientific explanations of the origin of DNA and the complexity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

The rest of the NCSE post is a history of the back-and-forth efforts to keep, revise, or toss out the creationist-friendly language. Somehow, it appears that sanity has prevailed — at least partially.

Looking around for other reports, we found this in the San Antonio Current: Texas School Board Approves New “Evolution” Language. They say:

The State Board of Education voted Friday morning to makes [sic] changes to how evolution will be presented in high school biology classes. But if you blink, you may miss them. The new curriculum, first discussed in February, moves away from language that openly questions the theory of evolution — while still leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

They tell us:

The previous standard written in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for science implied that experts were uncertain about the theory of evolution. It asked students to “evaluate” scientific explanations for cell complexity. Many educators advocated for this change because science on evolution is clear, and creationism, a religious theory that explains how life came to exist, is not. … With Friday’s subtle change, students will now need to, instead, “compare and contrast” scientific explanation for cellular complexity.

This represents a “victory” in the sense that the creationists on the SBOE budged a little bit. The standards are improved, but still sleazy. A creationist teacher can still go wild while teaching evolution. We expect an interesting response from the Discoveroids.

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

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8 responses to “Texas Science Standards Are Now Revised

  1. Sounds like “blink and you’ll miss it” to me. Maybe it counts as a “Texas victory.”

  2. The “blink” part is that the bad language opens the door for “supplemental material,” i.e. creationist junk, to be considered for the classroom. Some really awful stuff was proposed some years ago, basically a collection of PDF’s produce by “some guy” out of his house in Albuquerque.

    A similar skirmish happened last year with some terrible, awful, Christian American exceptionalism alternative history of Mexican studies produced by Cynthia Dunbar and a couple of home-schoolers. Yeah, it was rejected, but not after a committee of academics had to spend hours documenting the errors, omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies.

    That’s the real problem with loose standards. All of these religious flakes come out of the woodwork and you have to spend time swatting them down.

  3. Science won. Check out the before, the recommendations and the final language here: https://donmcleroy.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/who-won/

  4. Are you the Don McLeroy, the dentist who was formerly chairman of the Texas Board of Education?

  5. They might still be there, but they are weaker than they were. Removing the phrase ‘analyze and evaluate’ is completely appropriate because HS students aren’t equipped to judge the merits of a scientific theory. Now we get to hear how Creationists, such as yourself, spin this into some sort of Pyrrhic victory. The reality is teachers now have more of a fighting chance to actually teach science with less distraction from religion concepts. (Let the Whining Begin) “Compare and Contrast” is vastly different than “Analyze and Evaluate”

  6. Don McLeroy says “Science won”. Science always wins Don when facts and evidence are allowed as opposed to magical interventions and supernatural events. Your magical explanations and god of the gaps claims are as scientifically worthless now as they were when you first snuck them into the Texas standards in the middle of the night. Get help Don.