Archive for the Texas Category

Texas SBOE–no one wants to teach creationism/intelligent design

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Don McLeroy is on the record as saying recently during testimony at the state board of education that he knows of no one on the board that has ever wanted to teach these ideas as part of science curriculum.  Yet McLeroy HIMSELF has advocated teaching creationism in the past! 

Sigh.

I recommend reading the following two blog posts from Tony Whitson and the Texas Freedom Network for more information.

Texas science education update

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by airtightnoodle

The National Center for Science Education has given us an update on what is going on in Texas here.  On November 19, the board of education will hear testimony on the state’s science standards.  The article also gives details on how you can register to testify.

Barbara Forrest at SMU

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Barbara Forrest recently spoke at Southern Methodist University in Dallas about creationism and intelligent design.  Ed Darrell from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub was in attendance and has given us a rundown of the highlights from her talk.

Go here to read what Forrest had to say.

Creationism (a.k.a. zombie science)

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education recently wrote an article entitled “Zombie Jamboree in Texas” in which he compares the creationist movement to such zombie flicks as “Dawn of the Dead”.

As humorous as this might seem, Branch’s article clearly points out why this issue is so important–and why the outcome in Texas is important for the nation as a whole.

Three creationists were just appointed to a six-member committee to review a draft set of Texas state biology standards, which determine what is taught in Texas’s public school science classrooms and the content of the biology textbooks approved for use in the state. And since Texas is one of the largest textbook markets in the country, what happens to textbooks there is relevant to the content of textbooks everywhere.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

CISD candidates’ views on teaching evolution

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

CISD (Conroe Independent School District, one of the school districts north of Houston and one of the larger districts in the state) has a vacancy on the school board.  The following article addresses the views on teaching evolution of the candidates running for this open position.  Click here to read the article.

When voting on Tuesday, don’t forget about voting for the State Board of Education!

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Here is an article about the candidates running in my area, district 8, for Texas State Board of Education. 

Note that the incumbent, Barbara Cargill, advocates “teaching the controversy”.

Share your comments on the Texas science standards

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

As mentioned on my blog already, the first draft of science TEKS has been posted online.  Now you can share your comments on the TEKS. 

The comment forms for the first draft of the proposed Science TEKS have been posted at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/scienceTEKS.html.

The Science TEKS Review Committees will meet at the end of October and begin reviewing comments.

The end of October is here.  So go read the TEKS and post your comments NOW!

Don McLeroy defends Texas creationists

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Today’s issue of the Waco Tribune-Herald features a guest column from Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.  McLeroy, as mentioned previously on this blog, is a creationist.

Texas is adopting new science standards. Scientists representing evolutionists and calling themselves the 21st Century Science Coalition say that creationists on the State Board of Education will inject religion into the science classroom. Should they be concerned? No. This will not happen.

They also say that the board will require supernatural explanations to be placed in the curriculum. This will not happen.

First of all, this is the first I’ve ever heard of the 21st Century Science Coalition.  Googling reveals their website, located here.  In any case, I find it interesting that McLeroy singles this one organization out.  This seems to give the appearance that this is one of the only groups out there concerned about this issue, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.  But let’s be fair.  Perhaps they had an editorial in the same paper recently that I missed and McLeroy is simply responding to it.  In any case, let’s be clear: these are not the only people making a fuss.

Regardless, how can McLeroy repeat that “this will not happen”?  What other reasons would creationists have for wanting to have a say in the science TEKS?  And how can he definitively dictate what may or may not happen? 

McLeroy then makes a statement to stun all Biology teachers and evolution supporters across the world:

First, is understanding of evolution “vital” to the understanding of biology? No.

I guess McLeroy isn’t familiar with the famous Dobzhansky article that really sums it all up: “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”.

Next, has evolution been demonstrated to be true beyond any reasonable doubt? No.

Is evolution’s support from the peer-reviewed literature unassailable? No.

If these are the criteria by which evolution has come under assault, then much of science should be suffering under the same scrutiny.  No scientific theory is ever going to be proven to be 100% true.  No theory is safe from criticism and peer review.  That’s the beauty of the scientific method–which, many scientists will agree, HAS shown evolution to be true beyond “reasonable doubt”.

Does evolution have scientific “weaknesses”?

The 21st Century Coalition not only says no but insists that we must strike the weaknesses language from our standards because leaving it in threatens our children’s scientific reasoning.

If we’re not going to apply the same “weaknesses” technique to all other scientific theories, then yes, it certainly does threaten our children’s scientific reasoning.  Our students deserve a 21st century science education, not watered-down science, whether it is biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc.

Discovery Institute jumps into the Texas science fray

Posted in Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Thanks to Jeremy over at An Evolving Creation for alerting us to the latest in the debate over the Texas science standards.

Texas

Texas

As mentioned recently on this blog, a review panel has been appointed by the State Board of Education to review the changes proposed for the science (and especially biology) TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  In that blog entry, I mentioned the potential conflict of interest with two of the members of the review panel, Stephen Meyer and Ralph Seelke, who are authors of a high school biology textbook called “Explore Evolution”, known for being critical of evolutionary theory.

The Discovery Institute attempted to turn the tables on the Texas Freedom Network, who first reported this conflict of interest on the panel: 

What the TFN doesn’t reveal is that another of the expert reviewers co-authored a one-sided, Darwin-only textbook! David Hillis, a biology professor at UT Austin co-authored the 2008 edition of Life: The Science of Biology, a textbook whose previous editions have been approved for use in Texas high schools.

We’ll let the ignorant “one-sided, Darwin only” statement go. 

To the uninformed, the above quote might sound pretty damning.  Combined with the next statements, one might reasonably question the Texas Freedom Network and their cries of outrage.

Hillis also serves as a spokesman for a pro-evolution lobbying group that is trying to remove language in the Texas science standards requiring students to study the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. Gerald Skoog, another expert reviewer, has signed a statement issued by the same pro-evolution group, and he too has been a science textbook author and has a long history as a pro-Darwin activist.

Casey Luskin, Discovery Institute

Casey Luskin

Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute certainly thinks the TFN is being hypocritical.

“If being a textbook author really is a ‘conflict of interest,’ then why isn’t TFN attacking Hillis and Skoog?” asked Casey Luskin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Well, Casey, let’s tackle that question.  Why ISN’T the TFN attacking Hillis and Skoog? 

It’s pretty simple, really.  Hillis’ book, Life: The Science of Biology, is a college-level book.  It is not one of the books widely used in the state of Texas for teaching high school biology (that honor goes to Kenneth Miller’s and Joseph Levine’s Biology book).  Hillis’ book is one book of several that can be used in a college-level high school biology class–in other words, an Advanced Placement class.  The curriculum and standards for such classes are NOT  set by the state of Texas.  AP class standards are governed by the College Board.  Thus, there is no conflict of interest where Hillis is concerned.

Furthermore, a brief search for textbooks written by Gerald Skoog reveals that the last one he co-authored appears to have been published in 1999.  This book was titled, “Science Insights: Exploring Earth & Space“, and was a middle-school level textbook.  Naturally, this would not be appropriate at the high school level.  Again, there is no conflict of interest here.

Interestingly, the article from the Discovery Institute actually reveals another conflict of interest on their part:

Dr. Meyer is director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute…

Aha!  Well of course the DI feels the need to defend Meyer against the allegations of the TFN!  He’s one of theirs!  Naturally, they must come to the rescue of Seelke as well, since he was involved in the Kansas evolution hearings which resulted in Kansas including anti-evolution standards in science curriculum–which we thankfully remind readers were overturned in 2007. 

Creationists strike back against newly proposed TEKS

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2008 by airtightnoodle

As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, the Texas science standards are currently under revision.  The proposed revisions came out a few weeks ago, and the majority of science experts in the state are pleased with these new TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  Yet according to this post from the Texas Freedom Network:

The Texas Freedom Network has learned that evolution opponents on the state board are trying to pack a formal curriculum review panel with supporters of teaching “intelligent design”/creationism. The panel was supposed to include science experts, yet three of the six appointed by the state board are strident evolution critics.

This is not surprising as we already know that there are several “creationism sympathizers”, to say the least, on the State Board of Education, including chairman Don McLeroy.  What is disturbing, however, is the apparent conflict of interest that exists with two of the members on this newly appointed review panel.

Two of the members on this review panel are Stephen Meyer and Ralph Seelke–authors of the textbook “Explore Evolution”, an anti-evolution textbook published by the Discovery Institute. 

Will Texas students get a quality science education?  Let’s hope so.  Stay tuned, folks!