The beat goes on…While this was not a complete victory or defeat for the forces of science or reason, the door remains open. The best news is that teachers have been ignoring the standards, where they violated science. As for ” It allows for full discussion of all sides of the issue.”, no one has a ‘side’ on a scientific discussion unless they have valid data. (See below)
From Michael Brick, (NY Times) ” AUSTIN, Tex. — In an evenly split vote, the State Board of Education on Thursday upheld teaching evolution as accepted mainstream science.
But social conservatives on the board, using a series of amendments tailored to particular school subjects, succeeded in requiring teachers to evaluate critically a variety of scientific principles like cell formation and the Big Bang.
The debate over new curriculum requirements, to take effect in 2010, stands to influence educational standards nationwide. Once every decade, major textbook publishers revise their offerings to match the requirements newly set forth by Texas, which is one of their largest bulk customers.More than 80 years after the biology teacher John Scopes was tried on charges of illegally teaching evolution in Tennessee, the controversy here has played out with more subtlety, involving political code words and efforts to undermine the theory itself.
The debate has centered on a longstanding clause that requires teachers to address the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories, including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Teachers quietly ignored the requirements for decades.
The board tentatively decided in January to drop the “strengths and weaknesses” language. On Thursday, Democrats and moderate Republicans on the board blocked a proposal by social conservatives to reinstate it. Even with one moderate board member missing, the measure was blocked with a preliminary 7-to-7 vote.
The full board took a final vote on Friday, and left things as described here..
Failing to overhaul the curriculum broadly, conservatives instead attached a series of measures specific to subjects like biology, where teachers would be newly required to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of natural selection to explain the complexity of the cell.”
In the earth-science curriculum, conservatives weakened language concerning “the concept of an expanding universe” to address instead “current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe…A conservative board member, Bob Craig of Lubbock, expressed satisfaction with the overall changes.
“I personally believe that language is good language,” Mr. Craig said in an interview. “It allows for full discussion of all sides of the issue.”
Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit group that promotes the teaching of evolution, said the vote would not end the debate.
“If they don’t get the political strategy, they’ll go piecemeal,” Mr. Quinn said. “The State Board of Education pretty much slammed the door on ‘strengths and weaknesses,’ but then went around and opened all the windows in the house.””