16 May 2011

Who might be reviewing Texas science supplements?

The Texas Freedom Network is reporting on the list of reviewers of supplemental biology materials for Texas K-12 science classes. A PDF of the list of nominees is here.

Some people are educators, both at the university and K-12 level, several of whom have expertise in biology. Other nominees, to my untrained eye, seem... odd. We have as suggested reviewers people whose affiliations are Dell, retired (no indication of experience), and “Law offices of Albert Wai-Kit Chan,” and “Accudata Systems.”

The Texas Freedom Network, who watches these things more closely than I, pegs three of them as creationists.

If you want to peek at supplemental material that has generated the most discussion, Mother Jones shows a picture from the proposed supplemental material from International Databases. So does Care 2. Even putting aside the content issues, the presentation looks amateurish.

And finally, we have another case of where all of this maneuvers are making the state of Texas look bad – even when it isn’t deserved!

Bill Allen at The Huffington Post repeats this untruth about Texas:

After all, this is the State where that political board proposed, among other things: (snip)

6. To mandate that teachers give the religious-based, factually-bereft fiction of creationism equal footing with evolution, the basic organizing principle of all modern biology.

That is false, if Allen is referring to what has been happening in the last four years. There was never any mandate to put creationism into the Texas K-12 science standards. Indeed, Don McLeroy (former chair of the Board) was said:

McLeroy insists he doesn’t have any desire to have creationism taught in classrooms. “It’s a religious philosophy,” he says. “It doesn’t belong in schools. Same with intelligent design. Evolution is the scientific consensus, so we’ll teach that.”

Yes, the Board of Education weakened the standards on evolution in ways sympathetic to creationism and intelligent design. The creationists on the State Board of Education were quite adept in their dealings with the science standards.

The point is that Texas is perceived as a place where the teaching of creationism has been officially approved by the state. This is not a good perception for a state that wants to attract high tech business. And I fear that eventually, some poor teacher is going to think it’s okay to teach creationism, and is going to get sued.

No comments: