ReligionScience

Small Ray of Hope for Texas Education

As you may remember, in 2009 the Texas State Board of Education allowed very suspect language to be included in the science curriculum guidelines that the state’s teachers follow in the classroom. New textbooks were scheduled to be adopted in 2011 that many feared would reflect the suspect language that could allow creationists to sneak their mythology into science classrooms. Due to budget constraints, however, Texas will not be adopting new textbooks this year, as scheduled. Instead, the state board of education will adopt curriculum supplements this spring/summer, which only cover content added to the guidelines in the last revision; in other words, content specific to the suspect additions.

The state board has started the process to adopt these supplemental science curriculum materials. As part of that process, several different publishers are submitting materials that a panel of science educators will review prior to their adoption by the board.

The Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) was planning to offer material for consideration that included “presentation of [the] intelligent design alternative” as part of its supplemental.

You may remember FTE best as the publisher of Of Pandas and People, the intelligent design/creationism textbook at the center of the Kitzmiller v. Dover case in 2005.

In a bit of good news for Texas school children, the FTE has decided not to submit any supplementary materials for approval by the Texas state board of education. And judging from an email from FTE to the Texas Education Agency, quoted by the Texas Freedom Network, had they submitted material, it would have reflected the same old intelligent design song and dance from the Kitzmiller material:

FTE’s product will be electronic written material satisfying the new and expanded Biology 1 TEKS for Texas schools, with components for both teachers and students. It will include irenic yet candid discussions of what an educated person in the 21st century must know in regard to neo-Darwinian theory of life’s diversity and origin of life studies. Discussions will cover fair and accurate portrayals of the major explanations, as well as analysis and critiques of each, as advanced in scientific literature. The goal will be to equip students to see beyond the uncritical acceptance of majority viewpoints when warranted by scientific data;as well as to consider possible alternatives. Such alternatives will include intelligent design perspectives but not creationism or creation science. The major components are: (1) review of evolutionary theory; (2) critique of conventional evolutionary theory; (3) examination of origin-of-life studies and enumeration of problems with chemical scenarios for life’s origin; (4) presentation of intelligent design alternative.

FTE’s decision to withdraw its material from the approval process notwithstanding, the Texas Freedom Network warns that the battle is not over, citing the presence of “more than a dozen” antievolution activists seeking to be included on the review teams that will review the proposed supplementary materials in June 2011, with a final vote by the board now expected in July 2011.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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5 Comments

  1. “The goal will be to equip students to see beyond the uncritical acceptance of majority viewpoints . . .”

    Given that a plurality of USAians believe in some form of Creationism, this sounds like an excellent idea. It probably isn’t what the framers of this policy had in mind.

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