Texas State Board of Education members are already moving to politicize the adoption of new instructional materials for public school science classes in Texas this spring. E-mails obtained by the Texas Freedom Network on Wednesday through a request under the state’s open records law make that pretty clear.
In an e-mail exchange last November, for example, board Chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, tells a correspondent about the kind of people she wants on teams that will review the proposed science materials:
“(I)f you have other qualified colleagues or know of other conservatives with a strong background in biology, chemistry or physics, I would certainly love to see them apply as well.”
What does being conservative have to do with reviewing science instructional materials, Gail? Science students in Texas don’t need materials vetted by people pushing political and personal agendas. They simply need classroom materials based on 21st-century science that is backed by sound research and facts.
Of course, what Lowe really means by “conservative” is “creationist.” Two years ago Lowe and other evolution deniers on the state board seeded the new science curriculum standards with requirements that open the door to creationist arguments in classrooms. Now they want to ensure that classroom materials the board adopts in April are based on those junk-science arguments.
Yet those same board members disingenuously claim that the new science standards don’t, in fact, promote creationist arguments. Last November, for example, board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, answered another e-mail that asked whether the board was trying to promote creationist viewpoints in science classroom materials. Cargill replied:
“We expect publishers to adhere to the TEKS just as they would for print textbooks. Furthermore, there are no ‘creationist viewpoints’ in the TEKS. If there are, I ask that someone show me where they are specifically. They do not exist.”
Cargill isn’t being truthful. She helped get those viewpoints inserted into the curriculum standards (the TEKS). The new biology standards adopted by the board in 2009 bow to “intelligent design”/creationist arguments by suggesting that the fossil record and other scientific evidence might not, in fact, support evolutionary science. One standard even calls on students to analyze the “complexity of the cell,” an exercise that echoes junk science from “intelligent design”/creationism supporters. Scientists have long pointed out that creationist arguments about so-called “gaps in the fossil record” and “irreducible complexity” fail completely in the face of solid research and overwhelming evidence. Yet those anti-evolution arguments remain prominent in creationist literature, such as Of Pandas and People from the Texas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE). And now the same nonsense contaminates science curriculum standards in Texas.
As we have already reported, the FTE has notified the Texas state board of its intent to submit instructional materials for the science adoption this spring. Those materials will be available in early March. And now we see how some board members are clearly trying to ensure that the FTE’s anti-science propaganda ultimately makes it into the science classrooms of public schoolchildren across Texas.