Live Blogging the Final Science Vote in Texas

by TFN

A link to the audio of today’s State Board of Education meeting is here.

9:00 – Today the Texas State Board of Education finally decides what the next generation of Texas students will learn about evolution in their public school science classrooms. The morning preliminaries are ceremonial, but we expect debate on the science curriculum standards to begin within the hour. Stay tuned.

9:48 – The science debate is beginning.

9:50 – Cynthia Dunbar moves to amend the standards to ask students to study evidence “supportive and nonsupportive” of scientific theories. This is just another way of saying “strengths and weaknesses.”

10:05 – The board is on break as members discuss the amendment with each other.

10:08 – They’re back. Dunbar brings up the old nonsense that she’s protecting “academic freedom” and the state from being sued. She argues that if folks think “strengths and weaknesses” is “tainted,” then “supportive and nonsupportive evidence” should be fine. She misses the point. There is NO scientific evidence nonsupportive of evolution. Evolution is settled science for all but ideologues who oppose it for religious reasons.

10:14 – Bob Craig offers an amendment to the amendment, striking “supportive and nonsupportive” and replacing it with scientific evidence “on all sides” of the issue.

10:22 – One wonders if this board would also agree that students should learn “supportive and nonsupportive” evidence that Earth revolves around the sun. Or maybe we can have teachers present all sides to that debate. www.fixedearth.com can provide the side that says it doesn’t.

10:25 – Craig’s amendment: “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations in all fields of science by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, by examining both scientific  evidence that is supportive and not supportive of those explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”

10:34 – Strike that. The above was Dunbar’s original amendment. This is Craig’s substitute: “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations in all fields of science by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”

10:37 – Craig’s amendment will pass, it appears.

10:44 – Mary Helen Berlanga says she will oppose both Craig’s and Dunbar’s amendment because she wants to stick with the draft from the teacher and expert writing teams.

10:55 – Another extended break is ending.

11:00 – The amendment is changed to move “in all fields of science” to the beginning of the standard.

11:07 – This is the amendment: “In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.” The amendment passes 13-2, with Berlanga and Rene Nunez voting no.

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