Creationist 'Think Tank' Declares Defeat in Texas Textbook Battle — Days Before the State Board Even Votes

by Dan Quinn

On Tuesday morning, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute mourned the failure to undermine the teaching of evolution in new science textbooks for Texas public schools. But that declaration of defeat actually has come days before the State Board of Education‘s scheduled final vote Friday on whether to adopt those new textbooks.

We’re not ready to declare the fight over — during TFN’s 19-year history of monitoring the state board, we’ve seen board members pressure publishers into making last-minute changes to their textbooks numerous times. But it’s encouraging to see the Discovery Institute, the institutional home of the “intelligent design”/creationism movement, ready to throw in the towel. (It’s even more satisfying because the Discovery Institute hasn’t even bothered to show up for the debate this year. Are they declaring defeat based on our reporting or on what they’re hearing from creationists like board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands?)

In a misleading blog post on Tuesday, the organization claims that the state board “looks set to approve science textbooks this week that fail to comply with state science standards requiring students to ‘analyze and evaluate’ core evolutionary claims.” The post quotes Stephen Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC), as saying that the proposed textbooks “leave students in the dark about contemporary mainstream scientific controversies over Darwinian evolution”:

“Unfortunately, because Texas is a major purchaser of textbooks, the Board’s action may have an adverse impact on science education across America for years to come.”

Meyer served as a so-called “expert” adviser when the State Board of Education adopted controversial new curriculum standards in 2008-09. Creationists had hoped those standards would force publishers to include discredited arguments attacking evolution in their textbooks. So far publishers have refused to do so.

Another Discovery Institute spokesperson, Casey Luskin, accused the state board of “backtracking” on those standards and claimed science advocates are trying to “censor” “the very real, serious, and fascinating scientific debate about evolution”:

“But what about young people? Sadly, students will pay the price. Excellence in science education is poorly served by a capitulation to dogma.”

While Luskin wept over science textbooks that don’t lie to students about the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, arch-creationist and former State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy took a different approach. Reprising his public testimony before the state board in September, McLeroy called for the adoption of the proposed science textbooks because — he claims — they fail to provide the evidence for evolution:

“Therefore, I urge you to adopt these books. Not to please the evolutionists, but because when our students read these books, they will clearly see, like the little boy in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, that evolution has no clothes.”

All of the wailing among anti-evolution activists can’t distract advocates of science education from the task ahead of us this week. We know that publishers are still under heavy pressure to revise their textbooks and distort the science on evolution (as well as climate change). So TFN is still working hard at the state board meeting all week. You can help by clicking here to join our Thunderclap — a timed, mass posting on Facebook and Twitter calling on the state board to stop pressuring publishers and adopt the textbooks. We will be live-blogging and tweeting from the hearing this afternoon.

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.@iamjohnoliver used the clip in @LastWeekTonight for a segment on how the history of race in America is taught in schools. (2/2) #txed youtu.be/hsxukOPEdgg