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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Texas Debates New Science Standards

The Texas State Board of Education heard testimony from the public yesterday regarding proposed curriculum changes related to the teaching of evolution. The proposed changes would drop language requiring students to analyze "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories like evolution and instead require them to "analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing."
More than 50 scientific groups—representing hundreds of thousands of American scientists—have publicly called for Texas to adopt the changes without any of a number of proposed amendments, such as board chair (and young earth creationist) Don McLeroy's amendment that would require students to "describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record." In other words, they're calling on the board to promote "accurate science education."
The state board of education is set to hold initial votes today and final votes on Friday. And the results could have ramifications beyond the state: Texas is one of the largest textbook markets, so publishers often design textbooks to Texas' standards, then market the textbooks across the country.
Dan Messier