We warned repeatedly during the recent debate over science curricuclum standards that Texas was in danger of falling behind the rest of the nation in science education. Now a new study to be published in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach confirms our warnings.
The study by Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates of the National Center for Science Education gives Texas and just four other states a failing grade when it comes to educating science students about evolution, a foundational concept in the biological sciences.
The study notes that nationally “the treatment of biological evolution in state science standards has improved dramatically over the last ten years.” It gives 40 states (including the District of Columbia) satisfactory grades for the treatment of evolution in their public school science standards, as opposed to only 31 in Lawrence S. Lerner’s 2000 study Good Science, Bad Science, which was conducted for the Fordham Foundation.
On the other hand, the Texas State Board of Education — under the control of anti-science extremists — moved in March of this year to undermine instruction on evolution in public school science classrooms. As a result, Texas joined Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia in earning a grade of “F” on how state science standards treat evolution. Alaska, Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming got grades of “D.”
While Texas was falling further behind the other states, states like Kansas and Florida were vaulting ahead, going from grades of “F” to “A” in the study. Both states have recently moved to strengthen instruction on evolution in their public school science classrooms.
Why does this matter? Suppose a Texas high school student wants to study science at one of the nation’s top universities. How do you suppose the admissions panel at that university will score the student’s qualifications compared to those of students from states that teach sound science? In addition, entrepreneurs and other businesspeople testified at State Board of Education hearings that they would be reluctant to expand their companies or move them to states that provide a substandard education in science.