Texas Board of Education to Vote on Evolution
by Charles Lemos, Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:50:33 AM EDT
Later this week, the Texas Board of Education will consider a new science curriculum designed to challenge the teaching of evolution in Texas high schools but the decision could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation because Texas is the nation's second largest textbook market.
The Chairman of the Texas Board of Education is Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist by profession. He's also a creationist. The story in the Wall Street Journal:
Dr. McLeroy believes that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago. If the new curriculum passes, he says he will insist that high-school biology textbooks point out specific aspects of the fossil record that, in his view, undermine the theory that all life on Earth is descended from primitive scraps of genetic material that first emerged in the primordial muck about 3.9 billion years ago.
He also wants the texts to make the case that individual cells are far too complex to have evolved by chance mutation and natural selection, an argument popular with those who believe an intelligent designer created the universe.
The textbooks will "have to say that there's a problem with evolution -- because there is," said Dr. McLeroy, a dentist. "We need to be honest with the kids."
Funny that because his views on sex education are what's the word, well, the exact opposite. Texas law requires school districts to emphasize abstinence in sex education classes. Asked in 2007 about the possibility that Texas' emphasis on abstinence in sex education might be a factor in the state's relatively high teen pregnancy rate (the fifth highest in the nation) Dr. McLeroy had this to say:
The idea that just giving them a lot of information is going to solve it, I think, is kind of naive. Certainly, it's more of a societal problem than it is a school problem."
So much for honesty.
This is really getting old. Here's more from the story in the Journal.
The Texas school board will vote after taking public testimony in a three-day meeting that starts Wednesday. Dr. McLeroy leads a group of seven social conservatives on the 15-member board. They are opposed by a bipartisan group of seven, often joined by an eighth board member considered a swing vote, that support teaching evolution without caveats.
Neither side is confident of victory. All members of the board have come under enormous pressure in recent months, especially three Republicans who support teaching evolution without references to "weaknesses." The state Republican Party passed a resolution urging the three to back Dr. McLeroy's preferred curriculum. A conservative activist group put out a news release suggesting all three were in the pocket of "militant Darwinists."
One of the three, former social-studies teacher Pat Hardy, said she has received thousands of impassioned calls and emails.
Ms. Hardy says she intends to stand firm for evolution, but she has learned not to predict what her colleagues might do. Curriculum standards critical of evolution won preliminary approval in January, but several board members said later that they hadn't understood the issues.
"Anything can happen," Ms. Hardy said.
For the life of me, this country just befuddles me at times.