Monday, January 26, 2009

The Texas Science Standards: Not Taking No For an Answer

According to a story in the Houston Chronicle, several members of the Texas State Board of Education are trying to do an end run around the new science standards:

The new proposals came just one day after the board — in a move celebrated by many scientists — narrowly agreed to delete a provision in current curriculum standards that requires teachers to instruct students in weaknesses and strengths of evolution theory.

The “strengths and weaknesses” standard has been a staple in the curriculum for about 20 years.

On Friday, however, the board looked again at the issue and decided students should have to evaluate a variety of fossil types and assess the arguments against universal common descent, which serves as a main principle of evolution — that all organisms have a common ancestor.

The board’s effort to undermine “universal common descent” in public schools will make the state’s science standards “an object of ridicule,” said Steve Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science.

“It’s really unscientific. It promotes creationism. It says that students will be required to learn arguments against common descent or ancestral connections,” Schafersman said. “The only alternative to common descent is creationism in their minds.”

This has raised the hackles of some:

They are asking students to explain something that does not exist, said David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner.

“This new proposed language is absurd. It shows very clearly why the board should not be rewriting the science standards, especially when they introduce new language that has not even been reviewed by a single science expert,” Hillis said.

They've got persistence, I'll give them that.

No comments:

Post a Comment