The Texas State Board of Education has voted to give preliminary approval to proposed new science standards as amended yesterday. The board will take a final vote on adoption of the standards in March.
It appears that a number of board members did not want to challenge some of the amendments added to the standards yesterday until they have a chance to consult with scientists and other experts. As a result, the current draft does not include “strengths and weaknesses,” but it does include some anti-science language attacking a core concept of evolutionary biology, common descent.
Texas Freedom Network released the following statement from TFN President Kathy Miller:
The very good news is that a majority of board members have endorsed the efforts of Texas science teachers and highly respected Texas scientists in rejecting creationist efforts to undermine our kids’ education about evolution. They refused to allow the culture war code words of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ into the science curriculum standards. This is a very important victory for sound science education. A board majority stood firmly behind 21st-century science and should be applauded.
In a desperate last-minute maneuver, however, the board’s chairman introduced a garbled pseudoscientific amendment. That measure could provide a small foothold for teaching creationist ideas and dumbing down biology instruction in Texas. The amendment, which attacks a core concept of evolutionary biology – common descent – passed by a narrow margin. The chairman’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass is now under review by genuine scientists from Texas’ respected universities and colleges. In fact, it is absurd to think that education policy can be made without consulting such experts. We’re confident that once board members have time to huddle with those experts, they will throw a penalty flag, call back the pass and stop efforts by creationists to dumb down science education in Texas.
Let’s be clear: Even with the insertion of language calling into question common descent, stripping “strengths and weaknesses” from the standards is a huge win for sound science education. Pressure groups like the Discovery Institute have long used that misleading standard to attack science education on evolution. Moreover, we have time to educate board members about the anti-science amendments tacked on to the standards yesterday.
You can help our efforts over the next few weeks. Click here to Stand Up for Science!
UPDATE: Here is language McLeroy added to the biology standards:
Describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.