9:50 a.m. – Board member Ken Mercer: “Will learning ‘weaknesses’ of evolution make someone a lesser doctor?”

9:53 – Board member David Bradley says teachers have also been intimidated when they want to teach about “weaknesses” of evolution. He says he wanted to bring Ben Stein (from the movie “Expelled”) to speak about that at the hearing. Too bad Stein didn’t come. We could have used the laugh.

10:01 – Ah. The truth made clear. A creationist testifier demands that the board force publishers to teach “weaknesses” of evolution in their textbooks. That is, of course, what the battle about the standards is all about — whether the next set of classroom textbooks will teach pseudoscience or real science.

10:08 – Arturo DeLozanne, a professor of cell biology at the University of Texas at Austin, notes President Barack Obama’s challenge from yesterday: “We need to restore science to its rightful place.” Indeed.

10:10 – Prof. DeLozanne makes it clear: removing “strengths and weaknesses” does nothing to stifle the ability of students to ask questions. There are no prohibitions against asking questions in the proposed standards. Asking questions is how science works. But: “Pseudoscience doesn’t have a place in the science… Read More

8:30 a.m. – The Texas State Board of Education board room near the Capitol in Austin is packed this morning, with folks from around the state waiting to testify on proposed new public school science curriculum standards — and the pressure groups pushing creationism are out in force. The Discovery Institute in Seattle and Texans for Better Science Education have set up tables to distribute anti-evolution propaganda in the building lobby. More on that later…

8:38 – First couple of folks testifying are calling on the state board to adopt the standards draft proposed by teacher writing teams. That draft strikes “strengths and weaknesses,” phrasing that creationists have used to attack evolution in biology textbooks.

8:42 – Board member Ken Mercer once again makes the disingenuous argument that opponents of “strengths and weaknesses” don’t want students to ask questions. More on “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech.”

8:47 – It’s likely that the board’s creationists are going to ask repeatedly whether “strengths and weaknesses” in the current standards has caused any problems. What they conveniently ignore is that four sitting board members tried in 2003 to use the “strengths and weaknesses” argument to force publishers… Read More

Can you believe it’s been 13 years since Cecile Richards, Ann Richards‘ daughter, started the Texas Freedom Network?

Neither can we.

But it’s true!

For 13 years we’ve been fighting — with your invaluable help — to strengthen our public schools, ensure respect for all faiths and keep the government from infringing on religion and vice versa.

To celebrate, we invite you to our 13th Annual Celebration in Austin — a celebration of freedom and public service.

Get your tickets today. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make this year.

Can’t wait to see you there!… Read More

The Institute for Creation Research is launching a public relations campaign to win state approval for a master’s of science education degree from the Dallas-based group. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unanimously rejected the group’s application last month. On Sunday the Austin American-Statesman published a full-page ad from the Institute. You can see a long version of the ad here and a TFN press release here. The group’s leaders have implied that they will also turn to the courts in their efforts to promote creationism as science in Texas.

Texas clearly has become Ground Zero in the religious right’s efforts to undermine instruction on the theory of evolution and to promote biblical creationism in its place. The State Board of Education will soon begin revising science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The board’s creationist chairman and his supporters have already made it clear that they will insist that the standards, as well as biology textbooks that publishers submit for their approval in 2011, call into question the theory of evolution. Never mind, of course, that a sound scientific understanding of evolution is the foundation for the biological sciences.

The Texas Freedom Network’s StandRead More