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.



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