50 Scientific Societies Sign Letter to Texas Board of Education

As the Texas State Board of Education prepares to vote on the curriculum promoted by the infamous Discovery Institute and a board stacked with young earth creationists, more than 50 scientific societies have signed a letter calling on the BOE to Teach Evolution Right!

A Message to the Texas State Board of Education

The undersigned scientific and educational societies call on the Texas State Board of Education to support accurate science education for all students by adopting the science standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS) as recommended to you by the scientists and educators on your writing committees.

Evolution is the foundation of modern biology, and is also crucial in fields as diverse as agriculture, computer science, engineering, geology, and medicine. We oppose any efforts to undermine the teaching of biological evolution and related topics in the earth and space sciences, whether by misrepresenting those subjects, or by inaccurately and misleadingly describing them as controversial and in need of special scrutiny.

At its January 2009 meeting, the Texas Board of Education rightly rejected attempts to add language to the TEKS about “strengths and weaknesses” – used in past efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution in Texas. We urge the Board to stand firm in rejecting any such attempts to compromise the teaching of evolution.

At its January 2009 meeting, the Board also adopted a series of amendments to the TEKS that misrepresent biological evolution and related topics in the earth and space sciences. We urge the Board to heed the advice of the scientific community and the experienced scientists and educators who drafted the TEKS: reject these and any other amendments which single out evolution for scrutiny beyond that applied to other scientific theories.

By adopting the TEKS crafted by your expert writing committees, the Board will serve the best educational interests of students in Texas’s public schools.

At the Houston Chronicle, Steve Schafersman is live-blogging the proceedings, as the creationist faction rams through amendments without consulting the scientific advisers:

Terri Leo is amending Biology, and McLeroy intends to do so, too. Uh, oh.

Leo’s Biology amendment: “(D) analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.”

Bob Craig asked Leo if this amendment has been discussed with any of the six science experts. Her answer was no. The amendment carried 9-5. Agosto and one other member voted with the seven radical religious right members. Once again, a change was made to the Biology standards by a religious right member with no scientific justification from a science expert to support it. On the face of it, the addition does not seem to be bad, certainly not as damaging to science as the two bad amendments made in January, but I am still very unhappy with the process. This is very unprofessional, having non-scientists adding specific standards to the Science TEKS.

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