The PJ Tatler

Victory For the Teaching of Evolution in Texas


By a unanimous vote of 8-0, the Texas Board of Education approved “scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers–and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC,” according to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).  This decision ends a more-than-two-year-long battle for the minds of Texas public school children.

As the NCSE reported in April, 2011:

Materials “laced with creationist arguments” have been submitted for approval by the Texas state board of education, charged the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education in a joint press release issued on April 25, 2011. As the press release explains, “The Texas Education Agency has made available on its website science instructional materials — all of them web-based — that publishers and other vendors have proposed for high school biology classes across the state. Materials approved by the state board in July could be in Texas science classrooms for nearly a decade. An initial review by NCSE and TFN has revealed that materials from at least one vendor, … International Databases Inc., promote anti-evolution arguments made by proponents of intelligent design/creationism.”

“International Databases’ materials are not only laced with creationist arguments,” said NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau, “they are also remarkably shoddy, teeming with misspellings, typographical errors, and mistaken claims of fact.” The press release cited “intelligent design”-tinged claims such as “life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes” and “students should go home with the understanding that a new paradigm of explaining life’s origins is emerging from the failed attempts of naturalistic scenarios. This new way of thinking is predicated upon the hypothesis that intelligent input is necessary for life’s origins.” The materials describe “intelligent design” as a “legitimate scientific hypothesis” and even as “the default position,” despite the consensus of the scientific community that it is not. Examples of these claims are posted (PDF) at the TFN’s website.

“Two years ago State Board of Education members thumbed their noses at the science community and approved new curriculum standards that opened the door to creationism and junk science,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “Now they are getting exactly what they wanted — the chance to make Texas the poster child for the creationist movement. The state board would be aiding and abetting wholesale academic fraud and dumbing down the education of millions of Texas kids if it doesn’t reject these materials.” All of the materials submitted for approval will be examined in June 2011 by teams of reviewers appointed by the Texas Education Agency; the Texas state board of education is scheduled to hold a public hearing and final vote on the materials in July 2011; public schools could then decide to purchase approved materials for classroom use in the 2011-2012 school year.