Efforts to push creationist instructional materials into Texas science classrooms were dealt a setback today. The Texas education commissioner’s list of science materials recommended for adoption by the State Board of Education, which was released today, doesn’t include the proposed materials from New Mexic0-based International Databases. The Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education reported last April that the International Databases materials reject mainstream evolutionary science and instead promote “intelligent design”/creationism.
The commissioner’s list is usually based on recommendations from Texas Education Agency review teams made up of teachers, scholars and other citizens. Those teams met in Austin last month to review all of the proposed science instructional materials. Apparently, the review teams decided that International Databases had failed to cover the required curriculum standards appropriately.
On the other hand, the State Board of Education can choose to adopt or reject any instructional materials simply by a majority vote, regardless of what the education commissioner recommends. Moreover, it has been difficult to obtain information regarding any changes the other publishers might have made to their products to meet objections from creationists. And new state board chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, has already said that she and other creationists on the board will try to force publishers to add anti-evolution arguments to their materials.
Still, International Databases’ failure to get on the commissioner’s recommended list is a major blow to opponents of teaching sound evolutionary science in Texas classrooms. In fact, the head of that company ( it appears to be a one-man company) is claiming that “Darwinists” have been conspiring to prevent his materials from being adopted. The Texas Freedom Network has obtained a June 16 email from Stephen O. Sample to the Texas Education Agency:
“Unfortunately, due to the possible calculated efforts of pro-Darwinist activists (TEA personnel?) the SBOE will not have the opportunity to see or discuss a submission that was true to the intent of the new [curriculum standards]. It is a sad day for the students and citizens of Texas that there has been no fairness in this process regarding our submission. Freedom of Choice — a foundation upon which America was built — has been denied to Texas citizens.”
Of course, science is determined by research and evidence, not “freedom of choice.” “Intelligent design”/creationism isn’t supported by a shred of scientific evidence. So it’s very good news that the review teams and education commissioner have rejected International Databases’ materials.
We’ll keep you updated on any information we’re able to gather about instructional materials submitted by other publishers. The state board will hold a public hearing on the materials next Thursday and will vote on which materials to adopt on Friday. It’s sure to be another drama-filled week at the State Board of Education. Buckle up.