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.

The politics of teaching evolution in Texas comes down to one word


Highlights

The State Board of Education is expected to vote Friday on new science curriculum standards.

A committee appointed by the board has pushed for changes to or elimination of anti-evolution standards.

The board has voted to keep some ability to teach scientific phenomena seen as challenging evolution.

The State Board of Education is expected to resolve on Friday a months-long tug-of-war over whether Texas high school students should continue learning theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution.

It started in January when a committee of educators and scholars appointed by the State Board of Education to streamline the state’s voluminous biology curriculum standards recommended changing or removing four standards that require students to learn about scientific phenomena that critics say evolution can’t readily explain. The majority-Republican board in February proposed restoring most of the language so that students would continue to evaluate the complexity of cells, the origin of DNA and abrupt appearance and stasis in fossil records.

Democrats on the board, all of them whom voted against restoring the standards, feared that the language would invite teaching creationism and intelligent design in the classroom.

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

The committee has now softened the language that the board has proposed restoring, asking that instead of “evaluating,” students should “identify” the scientific explanation of the origin of DNA and compare and contrast cell complexities.

The board is slated to vote Friday on final adoption of the streamlined biology curriculum, which would go into effect in the fall.

“It becomes obvious that there were no ideological underpinnings to our recommendations, that we didn’t see some magic meaning in the word ‘evaluate,’” committee member Ron Wetherington said to the board Tuesday.

Wetherington, a Southern Methodist University professor, said the committee’s recommendation is meant to save teachers time in the classroom by reducing the number of days spent on the subject matter from nine days to four or five.

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

Skeptics of evolution say the committee is trying to indoctrinate Texas students into learning one side of a scientific explanation, depriving them of the ability to think critically about the origin of life.

“I thought that the whole idea of education was to ask questions, to consider alternative view points and to probe for the truth,” Stephen Smith, who opposes teaching evolution alone, told board members. “Evolution is a myth. For an evolutionist, it is a religious philosophy. There’s not a shred of evidence that one species evolved from another.”

By the end of the public testimony on the biology curriculum standards Tuesday, some of the committee members were willing to compromise with the board on other language of the curriculum standards in question. Instead of “evaluate” or “identify” scientific explanations of the origin of DNA and cell complexities, students would “examine” them.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan
Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan

A federal judge granted a 14-day stay of removal Thursday, blocking the deportation  of more than 100 Iraqis living in Michigan, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The temporary stay allows any of the men and women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to appear before an immigration judge and make their case for...
THE FINAL FIVE: San Marcos city manager finalists are named
THE FINAL FIVE: San Marcos city manager finalists are named

The national search for San Marcos’ next city manager has produced five finalists — four of them relatively close to home. Strategic Government Resources, a firm hired to help the city with a nationwide search, received 55 applications from candidates in 21 states to succeed Jared Miller, who stepped down in January to become city...
EXCLUSIVE: Contract reveals final terms for Plaza Saltillo deal
EXCLUSIVE: Contract reveals final terms for Plaza Saltillo deal

Capital Metro would receive almost $19 million in rent over the first decade of what will be a century-long lease of the Plaza Saltillo tract in East Austin, according to a 400-page agreement the agency released to the American-Statesman this week under an open records request. The transit agency, which has owned the former rail yard just east of Interstate...
Man gets 40 years for Cedar Park break-in, assault attempt
Man gets 40 years for Cedar Park break-in, assault attempt

A man accused of trying to sexually assault a Cedar Park woman in a shower after breaking into her home in 2015 received two 40-year sentences Wednesday. Clarence Alexander Richardson, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit sexual assault, according to a plea agreement. District Judge Donna King sentenced...
Suitcase found in storage unit could lead to 99 years in prison
Suitcase found in storage unit could lead to 99 years in prison

A man who lost his storage unit in Round Rock after not paying rent on it left behind notebooks that could lead to him spending up to 99 years in prison, according to an arrest affidavit. Ryan Dene Kyle, 32, of Pflugerville, was charged Wednesday with fraudulent possession of identifying information, a first-degree felony. The notebooks were filled...
More Stories