The culture wars will feature prominently in Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The Texas Freedom Network has put together a primer on Gov. Perry’s record in the culture wars at www.tfn.org/rickperry. Here, for example, is what the governor says about teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public school science classes. From a letter to a Texas constituent:

“Recognizing that evolution is a theory, and not claimed by anyone to be more than that, the governor believes it would be a disservice to our children to teach them only one theory on the origin of our existence without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration. Intelligent design is a concept that is gaining greater traction because it points to a notion that most people believe to be true: that we were created by an intelligent being who designed the human race with great detail and complexity….”

From a newspaper interview:

“I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.”

The governor has also appointed — in 2007, 2009 and this year — three creationists in a row to chair… Read More

Moments ago TFN released the following statement on the vote this morning at the State Board of Education:

TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK STATEMENT TFN PRESIDENT KATHY MILLER: TEXAS KIDS, SOUND SCIENCE EDUCATION TRIUMPH IN SBOE VOTE

New Instructional Materials Teach Sound Evolutionary Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 22, 2011

Today the State Board of Education voted to adopt the Texas education commissioner’s recommended list of science instructional materials. Special interest groups and activists off the state board failed in their efforts to force publishers to change their instructional materials to include arguments against evolutionary science. In addition, the board voted unanimously to reject the adoption of instructional materials from a New Mexico-based vendor that promoted “intelligent design”/creationism.

The following statement is from TFN President Kathy Miller:

“Today we saw Texas kids and sound science finally win a vote on the State Board of Education. Now our public schools can focus on teaching their students fact-based science that will prepare them for college and a 21st-century economy. And our schoolchildren won’t be held hostage to bad decisions made by a politicized board that adopted flawed science curriculum standards two years ago. Moreover, today we saw that the far right’s stranglehold over… Read More

TFN Insider will be live-blogging (and live-tweeting via @TFN) from the State Board of Education’s Thursday public hearing and Friday final debate and vote on the adoption of new science instructional materials for Texas public schools. This week’s state board meeting comes two years after board members adopted curriculum standards that creationists hoped would force publishers to challenge evolutionary science in their new instructional materials. Information about the meeting times and location is here.

The Texas news media is focusing on the story, including controversial comments from Barbara Cargill, the state board’s newly appointed chair. TFN Insider broke the news about Cargill’s comments questioning the faith of some of her board colleagues and insisting that the new science instructional materials be revised to conform to her creationist views. Check out an Austin American-Statesman editorial and stories from the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.… Read More

Earlier today, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute -- the Seattle-based outfit that promotes "intelligent design"/creationism and has tried for years to interject itself into science curriculum decisions in Texas -- sent an email to members of the Texas State Board of Education weighing in on the proposed instructional materials up for adoption in Texas this summer. The email included a 71-page "evaluation" of the proposed curricular materials. The report is basically one long complaint that the instructional materials do not cover creationist-fabricated arguments against evolution (such as contrived conspiracy theories supposedly undermining the scientific record, long-ago-debunked nonsense about "irreducible complexity," claims about gaps in the fossil record, etc.). From Discovery Institute's document: Unfortunately, as regards the TEKS that pertain to biology and evolution, only one of the proposed curricula (International Databases, LLC) makes any serious attempt to fulfill the call for meaningful critical analysis of biological and chemical evolution. The remaining curricula that were accessible online make no meaningful effort to satisfy the TEKS’ requirements that students “analyze and evaluate” neo-Darwinian evolution. [emphasis in original] …… Read More

The Texas Education Agency just released the full list of members serving on the science review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for approval by the State Board of Education (SBOE). As TFN predicted earlier this spring, the review panel for biology includes a number of individuals with a history of promoting intelligent design/creationism or advocating the teaching of phony "weaknesses" of evolution in science classes. Last month the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education identified proposed materials from one vendor, New Mexico-based International Databases, that promote intelligent design/creationism as real science. Now evolution deniers on the review teams will likely use their positions as a podium to promote the same flawed arguments. Read TFN's press release here. A preliminary analysis by TFN of the biology review panel identified at least three anti-evolution activists:…… Read More