Teams made up of educators, parents and other community members from around Texas are meeting in Austin to complete their reviews of textbooks and other instructional materials in science that publishers have submitted for the state’s public schools. The teams are meeting to determine whether the proposed materials conform to the state’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, curriculum standards for science.

This week teams for the high school courses, including biology, are meeting. The curriculum standards for those courses, adopted by the State Board of Education in 2009, are particularly controversial. Creationists on the state board succeeded in adding standards they hoped would force publishers to include junk science arguments against evolution in their new materials.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund asked two science academics to review the most problematic standards shortly after they were adopted. We published a report of their work, which includes their analysis of the problematic standards and how publishers can responsibly address them. You can find the report here.

We will be monitoring the progress of the review teams, but their reports will not be available until later in August or September. The state board will hold a… Read More

The reaction to the relaunch of our Stand Up for Science campaign has been fantastic. It’s clear that thousands of Texans see the State Board of Education’s adoption of new science textbooks later this year as critically important to ensuring that Texas kids get an education based on sound, peer-reviewed scholarship, not creationist junk science. You can sign our campaign petition here.

But the reaction hasn’t been universally positive. Check out the email we got from one evolution denier:

I would like to direct your attention to:

Since you are so WRONG in your “knowledge” of science, you should make at least some attempt to rectify that.  The impression of a man’s footprint within that of a dinosaur could only have occurred if there was NO RAINFALL for many-many years to allow the sand to form into stone.

Also, you have no evidence to prove evolution.  There is NONE!  There is not one fossil to connect any living animal to a former form of life.  There is, however, plenty of evidence that there is no source for those animals living today; that is, there may be many opinions but there is no proof.… Read More

Earlier today, the Texas Freedom Network relaunched its Stand Up for Science campaign, the latest installment in our ongoing efforts to ensure Texas schoolchildren receive only mainstream science, and not creationist arguments, in their public school science classes and textbooks.

So why now? Because there are some big decisions coming over the next four months that will determine what public schools students learn in their science classes.

The Texas State Board of Education has begun working on its once-a-decade adoption of science textbooks for Texas classrooms. And for years, an anti-science faction of that board has done all it can to undermine the science of evolution and climate change by giving equal weight to nonscientific beliefs like climate change denial and the idea that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. We’ve got news for those folks: Big Tex and T-Rex didn’t ride the range together.

It’s time to Stand Up for Science.

Click here to sign our petition and help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures of Texans demanding that the State Board of Education approve science textbooks that are based on sound, peer-reviewed scholarship.

This fight is personal for me… Read More

The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), run by religious-right activist Tim Lambert, is promoting arch-creationist Ken Ham‘s speech at the group’s convention in The Woodlands near Houston next month. An email to the group’s supporters today includes a link to a revealing essay on Ham’s Answers in Genesis website: “Should Homeschoolers Let Children Decide on Evolution?”

It’s revealing because it demonstrates the lengths to which anti-science extremists will go in undermining the education of children and handicapping their ability to succeed in the 21st century. That’s important to keep in mind as the State Board of Education prepares to adopt new science textbooks this year for Texas public schools. What those textbooks teach about evolution will be at the center of the adoption debate.

The author of the essay THSC is promoting, Elizabeth Mitchell, doesn’t argue that home-schooled students should learn about creationism as an alternative to evolution. She goes much further, arguing that students should simply be taught to reject evolution altogether and accept creationism:

“It is particularly important for science textbooks to acknowledge that God’s Word is trustworthy. Observable, scientific facts will never violate God’s Word when properly understood but… Read More

Many have been mystified that, even in the 21st century, Texas remains embroiled in a heated debate over evolution. In 2008 and 2009, for example, creationists on and off the State Board of Education insisted that new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools include requirements that would open classroom doors to anti-evolution junk science. The state board is set to adopt new science textbooks and other instructional materials based on those standards this year.

But the argument over evolution in Texas really isn’t much of a surprise. That’s because creationists have proudly rejected out of hand the overwhelming scientific evidence behind evolution. They have reveled, as former state board chairman Don McLeroy infamously said, in “standing up to experts.”

In fact, McLeroy — a self-described “young Earth creationist” who lost his re-election bid in 2010 — continues to do so. Last month he agreed to be interviewed by Steven Novella, who is president of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS). You can find the posts about that interview on the NESS blog, NeuroLogicalBlog. But if you don’t have time to check out those posts, just look at one to… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

It took years to convince the @TXSBOE to create a Mexican American studies course for the state's public schools. It's great to see school districts offering it to students.