Kathy’s #StandUp4Science Testimony

This morning, TFN President Kathy Miller delivered the following testimony on the recommended changes, or streamlining, to state science standards under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education.

I’d like to begin with a request that will sound familiar to those of you who have been on the board for a while. As the Texas Freedom Network has so often done in the past, I urge this board to listen to the recommendations from the teachers and scholars you appointed to advise you on this science TEKS streamlining process. We saw first hand how diligently these review committee members worked over the course of last year, carefully debating these recommendations and thinking through the ways good, focused curriculum standards translate into good, focused science instruction in the classroom.

You don’t have to take my advice – I am not a scientist or an expert in secondary science instruction. Fortunately for all of us, the teams you commissioned last year are! Listen to those dedicated folks.

Since many of you were not here the last time the board revised science standards in 2009, I thought I would remind you of some important context for this debate.

In 2009, review teams made up of educators and scientists met for almost a year to draft new science TEKS. At the very last meeting of that adoption process, members of this board cobbled together a series of additional standards focused on watering down instruction on evolution. Now that is not my opinion about those last-minute additions – the author and supporters of those anti-evolution standards made clear in their public comments what their purpose was. And if that’s not enough for you, the former board chair who spearheaded that effort, Dr. McLeroy, wrote an opinion piece in the Austin American Statesman this week AGAIN explaining how those standards single out evolution for criticisms not based on science, but on ideology.

I want to emphasize this point very clearly – those standards added in 2009 were written by politicians. Not a single educator or science professor had a chance to review or vet those words before they were added to the curriculum.

And here we are again this year. Your review teams have recommended standards to you that do not include political attacks on evolution. Teachers have made clear that those controversial standards added in 2009 are misleading, duplicative and needlessly time-consuming.

You have the opportunity to honor the expertise and time those educators have poured into these standards. Or again overrule them and insert your own opinions, based not on what will best prepare Texas students for demanding STEM careers or get them into the best colleges – but political objections to evolution.

I hope we can avoid repeating the errors of the past. This time, I urge you to listen to the folks who have dedicated their lives to science education. Thank you.