Science education is under attack in TX and OK, right now!
by ryeland, Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 12:49:20 PM EST
Science may be returning to the White House this month, but anti-evolution forces are still hard at work trying to undermine science education in the public schools. And things are heating up right now in Texas and Oklahoma.
A bill has just been introduced in the Oklahoma Senate that would open the door for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design (not to mention "alternative" approaches to climate change and cloning).
In Texas, the news is better, but a big battle is looming. Educators have finalized improved curriculum standards that would protect the teaching of evolution, but the proposal is headed for a showdown with the creationist-packed State Board of Education.
The National Center for Science Education describes Oklahoma's pending legislation as the "first antievolution bill of 2009":
Entitled the "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act," SB 320 would, if enacted, require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies" and permit teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." The only topics specifically mentioned as controversial are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."
To help fight this legislation (especially if you're in Oklahoma), get connected with Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.
Texas science education is moving in the right direction, but the State Board of Education still stands in the way:
The old definition [of science] -- which included phrases like "a way of learning about nature" and "may not answer all questions" -- has been replaced with a definition from the National Academy of Sciences. It states that science involves using evidence to form explanations and make predictions that can be measured and tested. It also warns that questions on subjects that cannot be scientifically tested do not belong in science.
In the end, the wording in the final draft may not matter because the board is not required to use it. In May, the board threw out a teacher-suggested language arts curriculum in favor of another that some board members have said they had only an hour to read before voting on it.
The board will vote on the new science standards in March. Check out the Texas Freedom Network to find out how to help improve and protect science education in the Lone Star State.