You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

State panel limits teaching phenomena that challenge evolution


Highlights

The board on Friday adopted streamlined science curriculum standards that will go into effect 2018-19.

The board has struggled with whether to change how evolution is taught.

Critics say that the current way evolution is taught is watered down.

By swapping out a few words in high school biology curriculum standards, the State Board of Education has limited the teaching of scientific phenomena that challenge the theory of evolution, a move that liberals hailed as a victory.

The panel on Friday approved a pared down version of the high school biology curriculum standards after committees of teachers and scholars worked for months to streamline the state’s voluminous science curriculum for all grades. The standards that covered evolution became the most hotly debated issue during the process.

“It was clear from testifiers that many who had varied concerns found the compromise language chosen by the board to be acceptable, addressing both the need to streamline content while still encouraging critical thinking by students,” said board chairwoman Donna Bahorich, R-Houston.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

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.

On Friday, the board approved new wording on two standards that have come under particular scrutiny:

• Compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including their complexity, and compare and contrast scientific explanations for cellular complexity.

• Identify components of DNA, describe how information for specifying the traits of an organism is carried in the DNA, and examine scientific explanations for the origin of DNA.

The streamlined standards will go into effect in the 2018-19 school year.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

In January, the board-appointed streamlining committee recommended elimination of anti-evolution curriculum standards, but the board in February proposed to restore much of the language. The committee then asked the board to soften 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 received pushback from evolution skeptics.

On Wednesday, with the blessing of some of the committee members, the board voted unanimously to allow students to compare and contrast cell complexity and examine the origin of DNA instead of “evaluate” or “identify.”

Ron Wetherington, a Southern Methodist University professor and member of the streamlining committee who doesn’t think creationism and intelligent design should be taught in the classroom, said the new standards were a success.

“For the first time in decades, the science standards contain no controversial student expectations and represent mainstream science. Also for the first time, the board reached out to teachers for ongoing comment on their amendments and paid attention to the experts in the classroom,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Senate moves to bar guns from state psychiatric hospitals
Senate moves to bar guns from state psychiatric hospitals

The Texas Senate amended a bill Wednesday to allow the state psychiatric hospitals to ban guns on their premises, including the Austin State Hospital and nine other facilities. The amendment by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, was added to House Bill 435, which seeks to allow volunteer emergency workers to carry licensed handguns while on the job. Changes...
Transgender bathroom issue continues to roil Legislature
Transgender bathroom issue continues to roil Legislature

Determining which bathrooms transgender Texans can legally use continues to roil the Legislature as the session enters its crucial final days. Already the subject of two all-night hearings, passionate protests and numerous news conferences, the transgender bathroom issue made a conspicuous appearance at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, emphatically capping a 13-hour...
House, Senate disagreement on ‘vouchers’ kills school funding bill
House, Senate disagreement on ‘vouchers’ kills school funding bill

The prospect of Texas public schools getting any additional money over the next two years is gone. The Texas House on Wednesday took yet another overwhelming vote against so-called school choice, which would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition. Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said the move killed...
Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature
Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature

New work to address overdue repairs at Texas state parks and efforts to open new parks to the public appear to be on hold after lawmakers at the Capitol have signaled unwillingness to give more money to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “We knew this was going to be a very fiscally constrained session going into it,” agency Executive...
Lawsuit: Austin boy, 10, crushed by driveway security gate
Lawsuit: Austin boy, 10, crushed by driveway security gate

A 10-year-old boy was killed when a driveway security gate crushed his body at his friend’s home in Central Austin, according to a lawsuit that assigns blame to various parties, including the gate’s manufacturer and the homeowner. The boy was a guest at a house at 5500 Shoal Creek Blvd on Feb. 18 when he went into a gap between the gate...
More Stories