Using the Law to Undermine Science

by TFN

Creationists are taking their efforts to undermine science education to the Texas Capitol.

In April of last year, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rejected an application from the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research to offer master’s degrees in science education in Texas. Members of the coordinating board clearly recognized the ICR’s program as simply an attempt to cloak the promotion of biblical creationism in science. A survey by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund also found overwhelming opposition to the application from university science faculty in Texas.

ICR officials, charging that they were the victims of “viewpoint discrimination,” have said they will seek help from the courts to overturn the coordinating board’s decision. Now they are also looking for help in the Texas Legislature.

On Monday state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, filed legislation — House Bill 2800 — that would effectively exempt the ICR from regulation and oversight by the coordinating board. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education have already dug into the bill here.

Supporters of sound science education were alerted to the bill by Texas Freedom Network member John Kingman of Austin. John — who attended TFN’s legislative lobby day on science Tuesday — contacted Rep. Berman’s office to ask about the bill. John reports that a staffer in Rep. Berman’s office said the bill was intended to help “institutions that want to teach creation science or intelligent design” primarily but that he was still looking into it.

John’s actions to unmask this outrageous end-run around the coordinating board are a perfect example of the kind of grassroots activism that is helping defend sound science in Texas. And Rep. Berman’s and ICR’s maneuvering are a perfect example of promoting politics over sound science. Their political games also demonstrate why the religious right’s efforts to dumb down science education will likely continue long after this month’s final vote over public school science curriculum standards at the Texas State Board of Education.