So how did at least six evolution deniers get placed on panels charged with reviewing proposed new biology textbooks for Texas public high schools? Look no further than the corrosive influence creationists have had over the Texas State Board of EducationΒ (SBOE) for years.

When Gail Lowe lost her bid for re-election to the state board in 2012, supporters of science education in Texas had good reason to cheer. During Lowe’s time on the board, the Lampasas Republican and other creationist board members helped turn debates over curriculum standards and textbooks for public school science classes into heated “culture war” battles. (See here, for example.) And that in turn helped make Texas appear to the rest of the country as a hotbed for anti-science fanaticism.

But even with Lowe no longer an SBOE member, she’s still influencing the board’s adoption of new science textbooks and other instructional materials this year. Before leaving the board at the end of 2012, Lowe nominated at least nine of 28 individuals whom the Texas Education Agency (TEA) invited to participate on the biology review panels this year. Of those nine, at least five are creationists: Raymond Bohlin… Read More

Last night’s State Board of Education elections marked another big step toward an end to the culture wars in Texas public school classrooms. With the defeat of incumbent Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, the state board’s faction of far-right ideologues should be smaller next year than at any time since before the 2006 elections.

Zooming out a bit, here’s the big picture that emerged from this year’s elections:

Garza lost to challenger Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, after just two years on the state board. Educator Sue Melton of Waco defeated longtime incumbent Gail Lowe — a leading member of the board’s far-right faction and a former board chair — in the Republican primary this past spring. Longtime religious-right firebrand Terri Leo chose not to seek re-election after it became clear that she would face a very tough challenge in the GOP primary.

Add that to dramatic shifts on the board after the last election cycle in 2010:

Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant knocked off former board chairman and arch-creationist Don McLeroy in the Republican primary. Cynthia Dunbar, one of the far right’s most divisive voices on the board, chose not to seek re-election that same year.

Consider… Read More

Bill Nye the Science Guy has gone viral with a new web video that simply must be shared with TFN Insider readers. In the vid, Nye makes an appeal to the grownups:

And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that canβ€”we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

Will the grownups on the Texas State Board of Education who want sound evolutionary science to be taught please step forward? Not so fast, Ken Mercer. Or you, Gail Lowe. Stay where you are, Barbara Cargill. Do we even need to say anything, David Bradley? And a host of other SBOE members past and present.

Watch:

Read More

Tuesday’s Republican Primary elections in Texas brought the defeat of one prominent member of the far-right faction on the State Board of Education — Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. But two other Texas politicians prominent on the far right also appear to have been too extreme even for GOP voters.

One was state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, in District 6. “Birther” Berman questions, among other things, whether President Obama was born in the United States. During the 2011 legislative session, Berman proposed a bill that would require presidential candidates to present their American birth certificates to prove they are eligible to be on the presidential ballot in Texas. But Berman also argued that the birth certificate from Hawaii that President Obama has already made public is fraudulent. In 2010 Berman told the crowd at a Glenn Beck rally in Tyler that “I believe that Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us today.”

Berman also fears that Muslims are taking over. During the 2011 legislative session, Berman tried, and failed, four times to pass a law that he argued would protect Texans from the mythical threat of Islamic law. Apparently, the Constitution’s protections… Read More

We can’t republish the Waco Tribune-Herald’s full Q-and-A pieces with Texas State Board of Education incumbent Gail Lowe of Lampasas and her challenger in the District 14 Republican primary on May 29, Sue Melton of Waco. (The two articles are behind the Trib’s paywall; links are below.) But we did want to note how the two candidates answered questions about evolution and science education.

Lowe, who is part of the state board’s creationist bloc that worked to dumb down instruction on evolution in new science curriculum standards adopted in 2009, told the Trib’s editorial board that she’s not anti-science:

Q: The most common perception is you’re a dedicated creationist who wants to get more of that belief in public school textbooks and weaken the teaching of evolution in the classroom.

A: I am a person of deep, religious faith. I believe the Bible teaches that we have a creator. But I don’t believe ever at the State Board of Education level any of us ever advocated for the teaching of creation in our materials. I would like a more objective view of what we teach as creation. The complexity of the cell and the world around… Read More

Lilith Fund

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