The Texas State Board of Education’s public hearing on proposed new public school science curriculum standards lasted until nearly midnight on Wednesday. Parents, scientists, teachers, clergy and businesspeople waited for hours for the chance to voice their concerns about the standards — particularly what students should learn about evolution. Many traveled to Austin from other parts of Texas, clearly understanding how important this debate is. Board members, however, apparently want to avoid a repeat at the January hearing.
Today board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, announced that testimony at the January 21 hearing will be limited to four hours — 8 a.m. to noon. That’s it. If folks are still waiting to testify at noon, we guess, then that’s just too bad for them.
Creationists who control the board have argued that teaching students arguments against evolution is simply a matter of academic freedom. Apparently, however, limiting public discussion about the wisdom of such a policy is just fine with them.
The January meeting will be the last — and only the second — public hearing on science curriculum standards that will be in place for a decade. Yet McLeroy and other board members appear to have decided that they can’t be bothered to listen for more than a few hours.
Speakers who support watering down instruction on evolution were outnumbered by about 8-1 on Wednesday by those who support giving Texas kids a science education that’s appropriate for the 21st century. We’re left to wonder if creationists who control the state board would support hearing more testimony in January if their supporters had carried the day this week.
Don’t like the decision? Let state board members know by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.