David Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, has written an opinion column about the science textbook adoption in Texas this year. You can read the full piece posted on LiveScience.com. Here’s an excerpt:
There are many ways that humans come to know, experience, understand and appreciate the world in which we live. Consider, for example, the different realms of religion, science and art. We can all appreciate the beauty of a sunset without understanding that its beauty comes from the energy of a thermonuclear reaction and the refraction of its light in the atmosphere. Likewise, understanding the scientific processes of the sunset does not prevent one from capturing its beauty on canvas or making a spiritual connection.
There are countless differing opinions about how best to educate our children, but presenting non-scientific or religious ideas in science class or in science textbooks is simply wrong and blurs the line about what is and what is not science. This will only confuse and mislead students and does nothing to improve the quality of science education and everything to weaken it. Decisions about what counts as science should not be a popularity contest. No matter how many people object, public schools must teach what the vast majority of scientists affirm as settled science.
Texas students deserve the best science education possible, as do students everywhere. This means teaching them sound science, including evolution bynatural selection as a major unifying concept in science. It is firmly established as one of the most important and robust principles in science, and is the best and most complete scientific explanation we have for how life on Earth has changed and continues to change. Furthermore, the very foundation of science is grounded in, and based upon, evidence. Classrooms will use the textbooks Texas adopts for years (the last science textbook adoption was a decade ago). Compromising the integrity of science for a whole generation of students to satisfy a few vocal ideologues is simply not acceptable.
If Americans want to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, innovators and informed citizens, we need to strengthen the teaching of science and provide support for — and encouragement to — science teachers as they do what they’ve been trained to: teach science, not religion or personal non-scientific views. We also need to provide teachers with the quality resources they need to teach science, including textbooks that include evolution as a unifying concept.