How badly has the State Board of Education wrecked the educational reputation of Texas? Pretty badly, if a policy adopted this week by the local school board in New Orleans is any indication.

On Tuesday the Orleans Parish Public Schools board passed the following policy:

“No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the state of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”

Ouch.

The policy goes on to insist on the separation of religion and science instruction:

“No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class. No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.”

That vote comes four years after the Louisiana Legislature passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which opened the door to teaching creationism in the state’s public schools. Then in 2009 creationists on the Texas State Board of Education passed new science curriculum standards they hope will force publishers to challenge evolution in new biology textbooks for public… Read More

As we prepare for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature — a session that could be one of the most difficult ever for supporters of public schools — it appears that creationists are redoubling their efforts to promote creationism in our nation’s science classrooms. This month a Montana legislator officially requested the drafting of a bill that would require “intelligent design” — creationism dressed up in a lab coat — be taught alongside evolution in his state’s public schools. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education have more about this development here. And read how the creationists’ war on science education is playing out in Louisiana. Publicly funded private school vouchers are playing a big role in the Louisiana battle.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that teaching creationism or so-called “creation science” in public school science classrooms is unconstitutional. A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in 2005 (Kitzmiller v. Dover) that “intelligent design” is essentially the same thing as creationism, making instruction about that concept in public schools also unconstitutional. But creationists keep trying.

The Texas Freedom Network is currently monitoring the filing of legislation in Texas for the 2013 session.… Read More

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, touted by some as the great Republican hope in the 2016 presidential election, thinks whether students learn sound science is irrelevant to the economy. Asked in an interview for GQ magazine how old he thinks Earth is, Rubio decided not to anger evolution deniers on the religious right:

“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or… Read More

The assault on science and science education continued throughout 2011. Today’s review of quotes from the past year shows that evolution and climate change were major targets in the right’s war on science, especially in Texas. Read other quotes from the far right in 2011 here.

“The controversy over science standards was actually the result of an attempted hijacking of science for ideological purposes by evolutionists. Their agenda was much more about worldviews than biology. The standards reflect real science and challenge students to study some of evolution’s most glaring weaknesses in explaining the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.”

– Don McLeroy, former Texas State Board of Education member, writing in an op-ed column about the board’s record over the past several years. Austin American-Statesman, January 1, 2011

“If your theory’s right, all these species would get together and form a new species, then where is the cat-dog or the rat-cat, whatever it be. They don’t come together. Cats go with cats, and dogs go with dogs.”

– Ken Mercer, member of the Texas State Board of Education, in another installment of his argument that evolution is bad science because there are no… Read More

What’s wrong with this picture?

According to the Dallas Observer, this PowerPoint slide was found on the central curriculum website (accessible only by teachers) for the Dallas Independent School District, the 12th-largest public school system in the country.

The slide was apparently part of a presentation titled “The Cell Theory.” The Observer notes most of the presentation was based on sound science. Until, of course, you got to the kicker in this slide.

The slide has since been yanked — after the Observer reporter started asking questions.

How did such blatantly unconstitutional creationism wind up  in the curricular materials for one of the country’s biggest school districts? We don’t know. Honest mistake or not, it goes to show that keeping creationist materials out of public school classrooms requires constant vigilance. Kudos to the Dallas Observer.… Read More