The Texas Freedom Network’s defense of sound science education was featured this weekend in a New York Times piece about the State Board of Education’s adoption of new biology textbooks — and, no surprise, anti-science pressure groups are hopping mad about it.

Check out this rant from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based organization that promotes the anti-evolution nonsense called “intelligent design” (essentially creationism dressed up in a lab coat):

Regardless of whether one thinks there is a genuine debate in the scientific community over Darwinian theory, there most definitely is a political and educational debate in Texas over how evolution should be covered in science textbooks. If the Times still wants to be considered an impartial news source, its reporters ought to fairly represent the different sides of that public debate, not suppress the viewpoints they disagree with.

In the first place, contrary to the Discovery Institute’s suggestion, the debate over the teaching of evolution is political, not educational. An educational debate would focus on which details about evolution students should master so that they can understand what mainstream science says. In contrast, the debate right now is largely over whether anti-science politicians and other fanatics should… Read More

The evolution wars aren’t just a Texas phenomenon. On Thursday a group called Citizens for Objective Public Education filed a federal lawsuit to block Kansas from using multistate curriculum standards that treat evolution as established, mainstream science. From an Associated Press article:

The lawsuit argues that the new standards will cause Kansas public schools to promote a “non-theistic religious worldview” by allowing only “materialistic” or “atheistic” explanations to scientific questions, particularly about the origins of life and the universe. The suit further argues that state would be “indoctrinating” impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s protections for religious freedom.

John Calvert, an attorney involved in the lawsuit, worries that indoctrination of students will begin in kindergarten:

“By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution. By the time you’re in middle school, you’re a Darwinist.”

Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director for the National Center for Science Education, calls the lawsuit “silly”:

“They’re trying to say anything that’s not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion.”

Josh testified at the State Board of Education‘s public hearing on proposed newRead More

Don McLeroy, the arch-creationist former chairman of the State Board of Education, is displeased over how some folks have interpreted his public hearing testimony last week about proposed new biology textbooks for Texas high schools. Here’s how the San Antonio Current describes his testimony in a story published online today:

While McLeroy described some of the evolution instruction in the unedited books as “unsubstantiated” and “dogmatic” (pot, kettle?) he, unlike other creationist proponents, oddly considers the statements weak enough to support overall. Within the pages lie, “hidden gems just waiting to be mined by inquisitive students that could destroy evolution,” he said, referring to a supposed open door to evolution denial he slipped into the books as Board chair. But those loopholes don’t seem to actually exist—researchers with the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University found the books to affirm evolution as, “factual, well-established, mainstream science.”

The fight over evolution v. creationism is sadly nothing novel in the Texas textbook wars, but the former Board chair’s overt admission may be. In the end, McLeroy, clawing at his last shot to wield influence and now untethered to the careful religious boundaries one can’t overstep… Read More

Anti-evolution activists have been alarmingly influential in the state’s official review process for proposed high school biology textbooks in Texas, but truly qualified reviewers have also been part of the process. One of the best examples of the latter is Ron Wetherington, an evolutionary anthropologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Wetherington is not just a highly respected scholar and published researcher. He also is a veteran of the evolution battles at the State Board of Education (SBOE). In 2008-09, for example, he served as an expert adviser during the SBOE’s controversial revision of science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. As the award-winning documentary The Revisionaries makes clear, Wetherington helped frustrate creationists’ efforts to undermine instruction on evolution in those standards.

This year Wetherington is serving as an official reviewer for Texas textbook adoption. The textbooks assigned to him for review did not include Pearson Education’s biology textbook, one of the leading texts in the market. However, that textbook did go through the review panel that included Ide Trotter, one of the most prominent anti-evolution activists in the state. And sure enough, that panel’s review is filled with misleading and… Read More

TFN has been in the news in bunches during the past few weeks due to our #StandUp4Science campaign and related efforts. Below you’ll find those press hits.

Excuse us if we’ve missed a few, we’ll be adding more as we come across them. Plus, we expect some new ones will be published soon.

And don’t forget that the State Board of Education’s vote to approve new science textbooks won’t happen until November, so our work goes on. Take a moment to sign the Stand Up for Science petition if you haven’t done son already:

New York Times One is a nutritionist who believes “creation science” based on biblical principles should be taught in the classroom. Another is a chemical engineer who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame. A third is a trained biologist who also happens to be a fellow of the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based center of the intelligent-design movement and a vice president at an evangelical ministry in Plano, Tex.

As Texas gears up to select biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade, the panel… Read More