UPDATE: TFN Insider has been getting heavy traffic from folks looking to read more about the battle over teaching evolution in Texas public schools. Why does this debate over public school science curriculum standards matter outside Texas? Publishers will use the new standards to create new textbooks. Because Texas is such a large market for textbook sales, publishers typically craft their textbooks for this state and then sell those books to other schools across the country. So the results of this curriculum process could have consequences for far more than just the 4.6 million children in Texas public schools.
Creationists who control the Texas State Board of Education have now taken a critical step in their crusade to water down instruction on evolution in public school science classrooms. As we told you last month, teacher and academic work groups have proposed strong new science curriculum standards regarding evolution, a concept that provides the foundation for the study of all the biological sciences. Now, however, the state board’s creationist faction is moving to undermine that proposal.
The Texas Freedom Network has learned that evolution opponents on the state board are trying to pack a formal curriculum review panel with supporters of teaching “intelligent design”/creationism. The panel was supposed to include science experts, yet three of the six appointed by the state board are strident evolution critics. In fact, two are authors of an anti-evolution textbook, Explore Evolution, that the state board could consider approving for Texas public schools in 2011. See today’s TFN press release for more on this stunning development:
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today sharply criticized the inclusion of three strident evolution opponents, including two authors of an anti-evolution textbook, on a panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The inclusion of the two textbook authors raises serious questions about conflicts of interest and whether political agendas took priority over giving Texas students a 21st-century science education, Miller said.
“It’s simply stunning that any state board members would even consider appointing authors of an anti-evolution textbook to a panel of scientists,” she said. “Are they coming here to help write good science standards or to drum up a market for their lousy textbook?”
The textbook, Explore Evolution, is intended for secondary schools and colleges, according to its U.S. distributor, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle. Because of that, the State Board of Education could consider it for the state’s approved list of science textbooks in 2011.
The two authors are Stephen Meyer, who is vice president of the Discovery Institute, and Ralph Seelke, a professor of the department of biology and earth sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. A third panel member, Charles Garner, is a professor of chemistry at Baylor University in Waco.
Click here for the rest of the press release.
The battle has clearly begun over whether Texas students get a 21st-century science education that prepares them to succeed in college and the jobs of the future. Don’t stay on the sidelines at this critical time. Sign on to the Texas Freedom Network’s Stand Up for Science petition and campaign here. Texas scientists can sign on to the 21st-Century Science Coalition’s petition here.