With the final public hearing behind them, Texas State Board of Education members today will debate public school science curriculum standards that will be in place for a decade. Board members will likely consider a slew of amendments creationists have been circulating. Many of those amendments specifically target evolution, and almost certainly at least one will again call for requiring students to learn “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories (but it’s always about evolution).
Supporters of sound science on the board may try to strip out anti-evolution amendments passed in January. It’s unclear, however, whether all of the board’s pro-science members will be able to participate today. Two were missing from the meeting room yesterday because of urgent family and personal issues. (We will respect the privacy of each family. The reasons for the absence of the two members from the Austin boardroom are entirely understandable.) Dallas member Mavis Knight has arranged to participate (and vote) by videoconference today and Friday. Corpus Christi member Mary Helen Berlanga is set to participate by videoconference tomorrow but not today. If she is unable to attend today’s meeting in person, the board will be split 7-7 (if all other votes from January hold, which also is not certain). Motions fail on a tie vote.
Today’s meeting is officially as a “committee of the full board.” Typically, much of the board’s debate over an issue comes at these “committee” meetings, with a preliminary vote following the debate. During 2008’s consideration of new language arts standards, however, the board’s far-right faction cobbled together a new draft overnight and presented it to the full board just an hour before the final Friday meeting and vote. So anything can happen.
We will be live-blogging the debate and vote today and tomorrow. The debate today should begin at some point after around 10 a.m., central time, depending on how quickly the board moves through early agenda items. (It could be a bit later if early issues bog down the board.)