22 December 2007

Texas Education Agency and Chris Comer, Part 23

You may recall that professors wrote an open letter to Robert Scott, which I commented upon here.

Scott replied to that letter (PDF file). The letter is vague and says very little substantive. The only thing he says that is remotely encouraging is:
The science TEKS will be reviewed and updated by the SBOE in 2008 but at this point, I am not aware of any plans to change these particular curriculum standards.
Very non-committal.

Earlier this week, Daniel Bolnick (pictured), the lead author on the original letter, has written to Scott again (scroll down; PDF here). It is a very good letter, and I recommend reading it in full.
You (Scott) write "that anything said will be scrutinized and may be interpreted as representing a position of the agency or State Board of Education." The Board's position on science education should be to provide the best and most accurate science possible, regardless of the political consequences. There are times when public bodies need to lead, and this is one of them.
Bolnick extends out a hand and says, "Hey, we're here to help you put in the best possible science in the curriculum." He also points out how "critical thinking skills" are only pulled out where evolution is concerned, and not for any other branch of science.
(Y)ou probably recall that in 2003, during the textbook adoption hearings, the evolution-related standards were the only standards to which 3A directly was applied (emphasis added - ZF), in an effort to weaken the coverage of evolution in the books. An attempt to force textbook publishers to rewrite their textbooks to include non-existent "weaknesses" almost succeeded. This would have resulted in students in Texas and nationally being miseducated about evolution. Upon entry to university science classes, they would have to unlearn the spurious "weaknesses" they had been taught in high school, which is profoundly unfair to them.
Nice to have some historical information in there. Good job all round.

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