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More Trouble in Texas

on March 28, 2009
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LiveScience: “Scientists Tell Texas: Time to Evolve” Texas and evolution seem to be popular sibling topics in the news these days.

Last week we described the battle underway in the Texas congress over whether private, nonprofit schools should have to follow state educational restrictions—a debate centered around the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research’s desire to offer master’s degrees.

Evolutionists agitated for state school board members to drop the phrase.

This week, the news is focused again on the curriculum debate in the state, which we reported on in January. The debate concerned a 20-year-old requirement in the state science curriculum for students to explore “the strengths and weaknesses” of various scientific theories. Evolutionists agitated for state school board members to drop the phrase, arguing that it opened the door to teaching creation (with news media wrongly implying the “strengths and weaknesses” phrase only applied to origins education).

Earlier in the week, a group of scientists in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science sent a letter asking the board to “reject amendments to the state’s draft science standards that would undermine sound science teaching.” The letter refers to a proposed amendment requiring students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency and insufficiency of common ancestry.” The letter also congratulated the board for “[doing] the students of Texas a great service” in removing the “strengths and weaknesses” language, although the LiveScience article misleadingly calls it an “insertion of language” rather than an already-existing 20-year-old requirement.

The AAAS news release describing the letter also references the compromising Clergy Letter Project signed by evolutionist pastors, stating—almost humorously—that 500 clergy from Texas have signed it. How significant are 500 compromising clergy in a state of more than 20 million people? Nonetheless, it shows the sad influence of pastors who are willing to mesh (or try to mesh) Christianity and molecules-to-man evolution.

On Thursday, the “strengths and weaknesses” phrase came to another vote but again failed to pass, as Baptist News reports. (The vote was actually 7–7, with a majority required to approve the language.) The report also mentions how the Texas science standards influence science textbooks, as Texas’s size gives it significant influence over publishers.

On Friday, there was somewhat better news out of Texas. The state board ratified new standards that would require students in biology classes to “analyze, evaluate and critique” scientific theories and that students are to examine “all sides of scientific evidence.” In addition, “critical thinking” is encouraged. While this is short of requiring the teaching of problems with certain scientific theories (as had been the case for 20 years), this compromise wording at least does not shut down all opportunities for teachers to critique evolution


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