Texas: Publishers refuse to include creationism in science textbooks

Source: Examiner.com

Author: Michael Stone

“In a victory for science education and the children of Texas, publishers are refusing to include creationism in science textbooks despite fierce pressure from conservative Christians.

The Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan watchdog, released a statement Thursday, Oct. 17, declaring “All 14 publishers are refusing to water down or compromise instruction on evolution and climate change in their proposed new high school biology textbooks.”

The following is from a press release issued by the Texas Freedom Network announcing the news:

Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools.

“This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.”

Conservative Christians on the Texas State Board of Education have been attempting to insert religious superstition into science textbooks for years by attempting to smuggle into the Texas science curriculum materials supportive of Biblical Creationism, also known as Intelligent Design.

Science advocates argue Creationism, or Intelligent Design, is not a legitimate scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. Indeed, critics would claim Biblical creationism is a religious superstition that does real harm to America – a symptom of a willful ignorance and an anti-intellectualism that thwarts scientific progress at home and humiliates America abroad.

Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, best-selling author and Science and Public Policy Advocate argues teaching children creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to the theory of evolution is a form of child abuse. Many rational people agree with Krauss.

Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back. And it’s fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don’t believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don’t believe in science, that’s a recipe for disaster. … The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong. – Bill Nye

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Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.examiner.com/article/texas-publishers-refuse-to-include-creationism-science-textbooks?CID=examiner_alerts_article

Texas Board Upholds Teaching of Evolution (Just)!

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.”” 


see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/education/27texas.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=michael%20brick%20on%20evolution%20in%20texas&st=cse

Texas Board set to challenge Evolution

How bad can it get? Worse – much worse…

Stephanie Simon writes in the WSJ: “The Texas Board of Education will vote this week on a new science curriculum designed to challenge the guiding principle of evolution, a step that could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation.

The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry. Texas is such a huge textbook market that many publishers write to the state’s standards, then market those books nationwide.

“This is the most specific assault I’ve seen against evolution and modern science,” said Steven Newton, a project director at the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching of evolution.

Texas school board chairman Don McLeroy also sees the curriculum as a landmark — but a positive one.Dr. McLeroy believes that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago. If the new curriculum passes, he says he will insist that high-school biology textbooks point out specific aspects of the fossil record that, in his view, undermine the theory that all life on Earth is descended from primitive scraps of genetic material that first emerged in the primordial muck about 3.9 billion years ago.

He also wants the texts to make the case that individual cells are far too complex to have evolved by chance mutation and natural selection, an argument popular with those who believe an intelligent designer created the universe.

The textbooks will “have to say that there’s a problem with evolution — because there is,” said Dr. McLeroy, a dentist. “We need to be honest with the kids.”

The vast majority of scientists accept evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth….The fossil record clearly supports evolution, they say, and students shouldn’t be exposed to creationist critiques in the name of “critical thinking.”

“We will be teaching nonsense in the science classroom,” said David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Polls show many Americans are skeptical of or confused by evolution; in a recent survey by Gallup, 39% said they believe the theory, 25% said they didn’t, and 36% had no opinion.”

Science, like religion, is not a majoritarian issue.

Is there any question that we must remain vigilant?  Is there any question why they elected George W. as Gov?

see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123777413372910705.html