Thursday, April 16, 2009

Texas Legislators Put Their Foot Down

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Stephanie Simon reports that Texas legislators have had it:
Texas state legislators are considering reining in the Board of Education amid frustration with the board's politically charged debate over how to teach evolution.

The board last month approved a science curriculum that opens the door for teachers and textbooks to introduce creationist objections to evolution's explanation of the origin and progression of life forms. Other parts of the curriculum were carefully worded to raise doubts about global warming and the big-bang theory of how the universe began.

While the science standards have drawn the most attention, the 15-member elected board has been embroiled in other controversies as well. Last year, it rejected a reading curriculum that teachers had spent nearly three years drafting. In its place, the board approved a document that a few members hastily assembled just hours before the vote.

Some lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- say they have had enough.
Some of the proposals would actually strip the board of any role in approving standards or textbooks. It has, however, been suggested that doing that may not solve the problem:
"As crazy as the Texas Board of Education is, there are just as many crazies, percentage-wise, in the state Legislature," said board member Pat Hardy. Another member, Cynthia Dunbar, said the board's fierce debates should be seen as a sign that all views are well represented.
Hidden behind Ms. Dunbar's smokescreen is the fact that not all viewpoints are equally valid. Ideas that have no scientific backing should have no place on the table, despite what Ms. Dunbar thinks.

Ms. Dunbar, if you will remember, suggested to the Texas Board of Education that Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Werner Arber was a "Darwin Skeptic" on the strength of an ICR paper by Jerry Bergman. Here is Dr. Arber's response. He, in no way, qualifies his support of evolution.

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