19 March 2009

Where scientific progress occurs

The Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a story concerning Representative Christian’s house bill to re-introduce “strengths and weaknesses” back into Texas K-12 science standards.

The bill says that neither student nor teacher could be penalized for subscribing to any particular position on any scientific theories or hypotheses. ... Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, who filed the bill, said it is not an out for students, because they must still be evaluated on course materials taught.

Emphasis added. It seems to me that Representative Christian just admitted that teachers could not be held accountable for teaching just about any fringe idea and calling it “science.” In which case, ooooh, there would be a world of bad teaching and probably many lawsuits to follow.

“The state is successful and will continue to be so,” said Jonathan Saenz, a lobbyist for the Plano-based Free Market Foundation, which promotes Judeo-Christian values. “It’s important that we fix the curriculum to allow for scientific progress and debate.”

Real scientific progress and debate doesn’t occur in K-12 schools. They happen in universities and research institutions. And I’m saying this as someone who has published research co-authored by someone who was a high school student when she was working in my lab (Flores and Faulkes 2008). The overwhelming majority of scientific papers are from universities.

See also an editorial in the same paper. I feel bad for students in Kansas... they’ve got a reputation through not fault of their own.

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