Politics and personal agendas dominated the Texas State Board of Education's process for adopting new science curriculum standards for public schools two years ago. Now our first look at the developing process for approving science instructional materials based on those standards has increased our concerns that politics will continue to trump education. The State Board of Education's faction of anti-science fanatics is clearly hoping to stack teams reviewing the science materials that publishers will submit at the end of February. A Texas Freedom Network review of current candidates for those review teams has identified more than a dozen who have been outspoken critics of evolutionary science, self-identified creationists or educators at evangelical Christian schools. Those candidates include nominees from state board members as well as individuals who have applied on their own to serve on the teams. Under a new schedule made available this week by the Texas Education Agency, those teams will meet in June to review the proposed science materials. TEA released a list of more than 170 candidates for the science review teams at the January state board meeting. (The agency is still adding to the list.) At the same meeting, TEA staff said each…… Read More

The National Center for Science Education reports that lawmakers in New Mexico will consider what is currently the fifth anti-evolution bill filed in state legislatures across the country. The bill in New Mexico is similar to legislation filed in that state two years ago. It would encourage instruction about “strengths and weaknesses” of “controversial” scientific topics (such as evolution and climate change) in public school science classrooms.

Creationists and other anti-science activists have tried to use the “strengths and weaknesses” strategy to promote junk science arguments in classrooms across the country, especially in Texas. The Texas Freedom Network, NCSE and other allies worked together successfully in 2009 to strip a “strengths and weaknesses” requirement from the Texas science curriculum standards.

NCSE also notes some differences between the 2009 and 2011 bills in New Mexico, including “the definition of the scientific information teachers would be allowed to present to their students about ‘controversial’ scientific topics”:

Both bills make a point of excluding information derived from religious “writings, beliefs or doctrines”; but where [the 2009 bill] provided, “‘scientific information’ may have religious or philosophical implications,” [the 2011 bill] provides, “‘[s]cientific information’ may include information that coincides or harmonizes with religious… Read More

The Foundation for Thought and Ethics, a prominent creationist group, has reversed a stated intention to submit instructional materials this year for use in Texas science classrooms. That decision, publicized on FTE's website, is very good news for supporters of sound science education and students in Texas public schools. On the other hand, it almost certainly is a huge disappointment for evolution deniers on the Texas State Board of Education. In 2009 those state board members succeeded in winning the adoption of controversial new science curriculum standards. They hoped the new standards would open the door to creationist arguments against evolution in classrooms across Texas. Read More

Here’s U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Georgia, repeatedly rejecting evolutionary science on Friday. Think maybe creationists on the Texas State Board of Education will try appointing Kingston to a panel that reviews science instructional materials for public schools this spring?… Read More

Breaking news from today's State Board of Education meeting. The long and short of it -- the war on science is officially back on in Texas. See TFN's press statement for the basics. And watch TFN Insider for more in the days to come. CREATIONIST GROUP PUSHES ANTI-EVOLUTION MATERIALS IN TEXAS SCIENCE CLASSES Texas SBOE Asked To Consider Materials from Fringe Anti-Science Group FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 20, 2011 In a move that should not surprise anyone, a well-known creationist/“intelligent design” group appeared on a list of publishers that have indicated an intent to submit science curriculum materials for approval by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) later this spring. The formal inclusion of this creationist group means Texas will once again be ground zero for creationist attacks on 21st-century science, TFN President Kathy Miller said. “In 2009 the State Board of Education approved new science curriculum standards that opened the door to creationist materials in Texas classrooms. Today we saw that one prominent creationist group intends to walk through that door,” Miller said. “Getting their materials in public schools has long been a top priority for creationists, and it’s clear that they intend to make Texas their flagship. Read More