Texas political conservatives stand exposed in their plans to gut biology standards to get evolution out of the curriculum after the Dallas Morning News detailed their plans in a front-page news story today.
LEANDER, Texas – Science instruction is about to be dissected in Texas.
You don’t need a Ph.D. in biology to know that things rarely survive dissection.
The resignation of the state’s science curriculum director last month has signaled the beginning of what is shaping up to be a contentious and politically charged revision of the science curriculum, set to begin in earnest in January.
Intelligent design advocates and other creationists are being up front with their plans to teach educationally-suspect and scientifically wrong material as “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. Of course, they also plan to fail to teach the strengths of evolution theory.
“Emphatically, we are not trying to ‘take evolution out of the schools,’ ” said Mark Ramsey of Texans for Better Science Education, which wants schools to teach about weaknesses in evolution. “All good educators know that when students are taught both sides of an issue such as biologic evolution, they understand each side better. What are the Darwinists afraid of?”
Texans for Better Science is a political group set up in 2003 to advocate putting intelligent design into biology textbooks for religious reasons. It is an astro-turf organization running off of donations from religious fundamentalists. (Note their website is “strengthsandweaknesses” and notice they feature every false and disproven claim IDists have made in the last 20 years — while noting no strength of evolution theory; fairness is not the goal of these people, nor is accuracy, nor scientific literacy).
Scientists appear to be taking their gloves off in this fight. For two decades scientists have essentially stayed out of the frays in education agencies, figuring with some good reason that good sense would eventually prevail. With the global challenges to the eminence of American science, however, and with a lack of qualified graduate students from the U.S.A., this silliness in public school curricula is damaging the core of American science and competitiveness.
Can scientists develop a voice greater than the political and public relations machines of creationists.
As Bette Davis said on stage and screen: Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
- The Waco Tribune; it features an opinion piece from Alan Leshner, the executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science, one of the two most respected science journals on Earth. (free subscription may be required) Non-Texans may want to recall that Waco is the home of Baylor University, one of the largest Baptist-affiliated universities in the U.S. Baylor’s biology department has no courses in intelligent design or other forms of creationism.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Science professors blast ouster of TEA official”; Fort Worth is home to Texas Christian University, affiliated with the Disciples of Christ (the sect that James Garfield, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan all belonged to); TCU has no courses in intelligent design or other forms of creationism in biology, and probably not in theology, either, though Brite Divinity School has a Baptist Studies program for Baptist clergy candidates.
- No Rest for the Rational and Science-loving Person update, 12/14/2007: The Institute for Creation Research is petitioning Texas for authority to grant graduate degrees in creationism. The Texas Observer has the few details available, here and here.