Thursday, April 02, 2009

Intelligentsia Fear Critique of Darwin in Texas Schools

In the wake of the recent Texas education standards revision, hard-line Darwinists express concern that the change allows teachers and students to perform critical scientific analysis of the origins of mankind

-- From "Texas Schools Face the Evolution Debate" by Eddy Ramírez & Jessica Calefati, U.S. News & World Report 3/30/09

Texas's State Board of Education voted Friday to alter the state's science curriculum and drop a standard that critics say undermined proper teaching of evolution in the classroom for the past 20 years, the Associated Press reports.

The standard, which mandated instruction about the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories, indirectly allowed instructors to teach evolutionary theory alongside intelligent design, a belief that an intelligent being created life on Earth. The new standard approved by state educators encourages students to scrutinize "all sides" of scientific theories, a compromise that still disappoints some pro-evolution scholars. The board also adopted a series of slight curricular changes that critics say unnecessarily encourage debate about key pieces of evolutionary theory, like natural selection and common ancestry.

From "Evolutionary Semantics, Texas-Style" Editorial, New York Times 3/31/09

[The Texas debate] was a struggle to insert into the state science standards various phrases and code words that may seem innocuous or meaningless at first glance but could open the door to doubts about evolution. In the most ballyhooed vote, those like us who support the teaching of sound science can claim a narrow victory.

At the end of a tense, confusing three-day meeting, Darwin’s critics claimed that this and other compromise language amounted to a huge victory that would still allow their critiques into textbooks and classrooms. One can only hope that teachers in Texas will use common sense and teach evolution as scientists understand it.

From "Texas forges compromise over creationism" © 2009 WorldNetDaily 3/30/09

The language is an improvement, according to the Discovery Institute, on the old language calling for study of "strengths and weaknesses" in scientific fields. The new standard calls for students "in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student."

Texas becomes the seventh state to specifically require in its science standards that students critically analyze key aspects of evolutionary theory, joining Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Missouri, South Carolina, and Alabama. Two other states, Louisiana and Mississippi, have adopted legislation protecting the academic freedom of teachers and students to discuss scientific evidence critical of Darwin's theory.

Since Texas is the second largest textbook market in the nation, after California, the decision could impact the content of textbooks used nationwide.

Casey Luskin, a lawyer for the Discovery Institute, said Texas now has the "strongest standards in the country."

. . . the standards do not call for teaching creationism or intelligent design in science classrooms, only that students study science but keep the right to "critique" it.

Board member Ken Mercer of San Antonio had suggested even stronger language, saying those who subscribe to evolutionary theory were trying to suppress discussion of anything that doesn't support Darwin's theory.

Kenneth Miller, a biology teacher at Brown University and noted opponent of intelligent design: "The theory of evolution has no weaknesses."

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.