The Texas State Board of Education has voted to give preliminary approval to proposed new science standards as amended yesterday. The board will take a final vote on adoption of the standards in March.
It appears that a number of board members did not want to challenge some of the amendments added to the standards yesterday until they have a chance to consult with scientists and other experts. As a result, the current draft does not include “strengths and weaknesses,” but it does include some anti-science language attacking a core concept of evolutionary biology, common descent.
Texas Freedom Network released the following statement from TFN President Kathy Miller:
The very good news is that a majority of board members have endorsed the efforts of Texas science teachers and highly respected Texas scientists in rejecting creationist efforts to undermine our kids’ education about evolution. They refused to allow the culture war code words of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ into the science curriculum standards. This is a very important victory for sound science education. A board majority stood firmly behind 21st-century science and should be applauded.
In a desperate last-minute maneuver, however, the board’s chairman introduced a garbled pseudoscientific amendment. That measure could provide a small foothold for teaching creationist ideas and dumbing down biology instruction in Texas. The amendment, which attacks a core concept of evolutionary biology – common descent – passed by a narrow margin. The chairman’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass is now under review by genuine scientists from Texas’ respected universities and colleges. In fact, it is absurd to think that education policy can be made without consulting such experts. We’re confident that once board members have time to huddle with those experts, they will throw a penalty flag, call back the pass and stop efforts by creationists to dumb down science education in Texas.
Let’s be clear: Even with the insertion of language calling into question common descent, stripping “strengths and weaknesses” from the standards is a huge win for sound science education. Pressure groups like the Discovery Institute have long used that misleading standard to attack science education on evolution. Moreover, we have time to educate board members about the anti-science amendments tacked on to the standards yesterday.
You can help our efforts over the next few weeks. Click here to Stand Up for Science!
UPDATE: Here is language McLeroy added to the biology standards:
Describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.
15 thoughts on “Texas SBOE Gives First OK to Science Standards”
How can I find out how my representative (cynthia Dunbar) volted? Thank you
Please post the “anti science” language so we can see it.
Have no doubt – Dunbar voted for any option to include creationism into the equation. She actually believes that public education is unconstitutional.
Steve Schafersman has a full description and critique of the changes here.
Social Conservatives or Double Rs (Religious Republicans) on the State Board have at least been honest in the past when they have openly supported the inclusion of Creationism or Intelligent Design in Texas Science textbooks. Insisting on the inclusion of strengths and weaknesses was a ploy to eventually include creationism as was clearly shown when Chairman McLeroy proposed his last minute common descent amendment…right out of the out-of-state Discovery Institute…the Creationist think-tank’s play book.
The garbled, nonsensical amendment by Mcleroy appears to be a reflection of his cognitive sate. What a cache of 7 audaciously arrogant people on this TSOBE!! I’m most impressed with Ric Agosto(San Antonio) voting straight rather than with the trouble makers. WAY TO GO RIC!!
I don’t see how you can call it a “huge win” when a near-majority of the board voted to reject all eight science committees’ recommendation to omit the “strength and weaknesses” language.
One of the main concerns about the new Texas science standards’ rules concerning evolution is what effect these rules are likely to have on textbook selection both in Texas and elsewhere. IMO many predictions greatly exaggerate the likely effect. This effect is discussed in my following blog article —
IMO state standards for education have become a joke and ought to be abolished.
Larry Fafarman, since there are no “evidences against common descent” we can all deal with it!! It won’t be taught!! Even if S&W were added, it wouldn’t be taught since they are only creationist claims. Not claims from the scientific educational establishment. Now Larry F, head back into the sand!!
Fafarman says “a near-majority.” He is referring to the minority, that is, the seven who lost. I guess you could say the “near-majority” came in second, but in Texas coming in second means you are the first loser! That’s right, the seven Young Earth Creationists on the SBOE lost, and that IS a “huge win” for the public school students and their teachers in Texas, who now will hopefully learn accurate and reliable science in their biology classrooms.
jdg said (January 25, 2009 at 6:22 pm) —
–Larry Fafarman, since there are no “evidences against common descent” we can all deal with it!! It won’t be taught!! Even if S&W were added, it wouldn’t be taught since they are only creationist claims.–
One of the main points in my blog article is that local school districts in Texas can use state-unapproved or state-rejected textbooks if the districts pay the full cost of the textbooks, which isn’t much. Another point is that public-school systems outside of Texas are not stuck with the textbooks that Texas chooses — in fact, the very popular textbook Biology by Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine already has regular, Texas, and California editions. IMO the fight over the Texas science standards is a tempest in a teapot, or making a mountain out of a molehill.
Steven Schafersman said (January 26, 2009 at 1:31 am) —
— the seven Young Earth Creationists on the SBOE lost, and that IS a “huge win”–
It’s a win, but not an impressive win. It is an embarrassing near-defeat. And it is hardly a win at all when the last-minute out-of-the-blue adopted amendments are taken into account. It is nothing to crow about.
— and that IS a “huge win” for the public school students and their teachers in Texas —
You should not presume to speak for all public school students and teachers — I presume that a lot of them would like to have criticisms of evolution theory taught in the public schools.
Cargill and McLeroy inadvertently shot themselves in the foot. The amendments they managed to stick in are easy to refute, since they question (directly or indirectly) transitional fossils, common descent, and the geological age of the Earth, all of which are well established in science.
James F said (January 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm) —
–Cargill and McLeroy inadvertently shot themselves in the foot. The amendments they managed to stick in are easy to refute . . . —
What makes you think that the amendments will be easy to remove, considering that the amendments should not have been adopted in the first place — regardless of their merits — because they were introduced out of the blue at the last minute, with no opportunity for public comments?
IMO the best thing to do is just forget about the state science standards and textbook selections. Local school districts in Texas can choose state-unapproved textbooks if they are willing to pay the full cost, which isn’t much.
“IMO the best thing to do is just forget about the state science standards and textbook selections.”
Okay, Larry, you go first.