(via Evolution proponents, critics clash at Texas school board’s textbook hearing | Dallasnews.com - News for Dallas, Texas - The Dallas Morning News)
AUSTIN — Evolution proponents and critics clashed Tuesday over proposed Texas high school biology books that point to Charles Darwin’s theory as the only logical explanation for the origin of humans and other life forms on Earth.
The arguments came during a public hearing on 429 science, math and technology textbooks and e-books that will be used in Texas public schools beginning in fall 2014. That includes 15 biology books.
But most of the debate during the 3½-hour textbook hearing centered on evolution coverage in high school biology books and whether students should be encouraged to question Darwin’s basic principles.
One of the first to testify was former State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, a young-Earth creationist who once sought to require that science classes teach both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution.
McLeroy urged the board to adopt the biology books as “a final blow to the teaching of evolution in Texas schools.” He asserted the books are filled with “unsubstantiated” statements in support of evolution.
“The evidence for evolution in these books is incredibly weak. And if there is no evidence, there is no evolution,” said McLeroy, a Republican from College Station. “Young creationist students will be able to sit there and say: ‘Is this all the evidence they have for evolution? Well, maybe God didn’t use evolution.’”
SMU anthropology professor Ronald Wetherington was one of the 28 educators and experts who reviewed the biology books. He said social conservatives who were on the textbook reviewer teams made “false claims” about the books to try to force publishers to water down evolution coverage.
“Their arguments often expose an ignorance of the very materials they are attempting to review,” he said. “I ask you to not let Texas once again become a national embarrassment.”
Randy Linder, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said the conservative reviewers tried to weaken coverage of both evolution and climate change in the materials. He urged the board to “resist efforts to water down the evidence for climate change and evolution.”
Another textbook reviewer, Ide Trotter, retired business dean of Dallas Baptist University, criticized the books for not including recent evidence that undermines the theory of evolution.
“In these books, the student is told that every scientific test supports the theory of evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Trotter. He asserted that Darwin’s theory is “facing a crisis” that “is not reflected in these textbooks.”
Board members are scheduled to adopt new textbooks and digital books in November. School districts are not required to buy the adopted books. But most do because they cover most of the state’s required curriculum — and students are tested on those required skills and knowledge.
The review committees appointed by the board included several evolution critics and creationists. Several have urged the board to not adopt the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on evolution.
As one of the largest textbook purchasers in the nation, Texas has a strong influence on books marketed in other states.
So, Texas is a HUGE textbook market, and our state influences what textbooks other states get. This is a huge deal. My hope is that next time we have to protest this sort of thing we have national coverage and opinions from celebrity scientists. My daughter’s 7th grade bio text had NO mention of evolution. Many students in this state don’t get basic instruction in evolution until they get to college.
Scientists, students, educators — please pass this along. Instead of laughing at Texas, show some concern. I promise we’re not all ignorant rubes - we’re just outnumbered and outfunded by them.