State Board of Education compromises on how evolution is taught


Highlights

Students currently must learn scientific phenomena that challange the theory of evolution.

Under the shortened curriculum, students will compare and contrast cell complexity and examine origin of DNA.

The State Board of Education has compromised on how Texas high school students will learn about the theory of evolution in school.

“I think this is a product … of the board recognizing the input … and working with the committee to come up with an acceptable language … that both meets the expectations of the committee and also balances with it the input I’ve received from constituents, educators, community members and a lot of other folks,” said board vice chairman Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo.

On Wednesday, the panel gave preliminary approval of new high school biology curriculum that is slightly pared down from the current standards. The move follows a months-long process examining how evolution should be taught in classrooms.

READ: How evolution is taught in Texas schools might stir fight

Currently, high school students must learn about scientific phenomena that can’t readily be explained by evolution, like cell complexity, origin of DNA and life and abrupt appearances in fossil records, which left-leaning critics have said invites teachings of creationism and intelligent design.

In January, a board-appointed committee recommended elimination of such teachings but the board in February opted to restore them.The committee has since come backto the board softening the language the board wanted to restore — instead of “evaluating” cell complexity and origin of DNA, students should “identify” or “compare and contrast,” the committee suggested — which has received pushback from evolution skeptics.

On Wednesday, with the blessing of some of the committee members who agreed to the language during public testimony the day before, the board voted unanimously to allow students to compare and contrast cell complexity and examine the origin of DNA instead of “evaluate” or “identify.”

“I’ll support the motion but I’d have preferred that out of respect with the committee, we would have honored their initial wishes and left this standard out,” said board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville.

The board will take a final vote on Friday to adopt the streamlined biology curriculum. If approved, the bill would go into effect in the 2018-2019 school year.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Murder trial begins for man suspected of beating boyfriend and dog
Murder trial begins for man suspected of beating boyfriend and dog

A Travis County murder trial begins Tuesday for a man who is accused of beating his boyfriend and choking his boyfriend’s dog after a night of drinking in downtown Austin in July 2015 Bryan Canchola, 22, is charged with killing Stephen Sylvester after an argument in an apartment they shared near the University of Texas campus. He faces a...
FORECAST: Coldest morning in months starts gorgeous Tuesday, rain possible by Friday
FORECAST: Coldest morning in months starts gorgeous Tuesday, rain possible by Friday

Tuesday forecast for Austin: It’s the sort of weather that would make a Miami mobster from a Elmore Leonard novel want his leather jacket: Chilly outside this morning, before warming up to near 80 degrees for a high this afternoon.  In short, it’ll be another gorgeous day — and week — throughout Central Texas, according...
Report: Texas water supplies in farm country pose cancer risks

Researchers with a nonprofit environmental advocacy group warn that high levels of contaminants in drinking water supplies in rural areas of Texas — including Central Texas — and across the country increase risks of cancer and birth defects, according to a report released Tuesday. The Environmental Working Group says drinking water in farm...
Police: Austin man breaks jaw of person he wrongly thought he knew
Police: Austin man breaks jaw of person he wrongly thought he knew

An Austin man is accused of breaking the jaw of another man who he incorrectly thought he knew, an arrest affidavit said. Bryan Griffin, 44, was charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Griffin walked into a Walgreens at 10600 W. Parmer Lane on Sept. 29 and saw a man standing at a register, the...
Former Austin broadcaster, lawmaker remembered for his talents, charm
Former Austin broadcaster, lawmaker remembered for his talents, charm

Marvin “Dan” Love, an Austin broadcasting pioneer and former city lawmaker, died Friday. He was 88. Love became a newscaster for KTBC-TV (also known as Fox 7 Austin) and later ran KHFI-TV (now known as KXAN) as its general manager from 1965 to 1974. He was elected to the Austin City Council in 1971 and re-elected in 1973, serving as mayor...
More Stories