When Texas changed its science curriculum standards, the science and science education community bristled, fearing that the 4-million strong purchasing power of Texas schools would push textbooks publishers to weaken the standards. The language of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum (TEKS) was intended to include common but long since debunked arguments made by creationists and climate-change deniers.
“[The student is expected to] in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.” Biology TEKS 3A
“[The student is expected to] analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.” Biology TEKS 7B
Scientists, educators, and concerned citizens are breathing easier and cheering the 14 publishers as they have refused to print false or misleading information in their Biology texts.
The board of reviewers selecting Texas textbooks has been criticized as it has few members educated in life sciences and includes prominent science deniers. Textbook selection is a long process with publishers submitting numerous texts that are then narrowed to a select few that the board considers to adopt and place on the list. Considered texts are reviewed and proposed corrections are sent back to the publishers.
As reported in a statement by the Texas Freedom Network one patently false objection to a passage in Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s textbook regarding the fossil evidence for evolution is a simple restating of decades-old creationist arguments.
“Text neglects to tell students that no transitional fossils have been discovered. The fossil record can be interpreted in other ways than evolutionary with equal justification. Text should ask students to analyze and compare alternative theories. The statement that there are hundreds of thousands of transitional fossils is simply not true. Moreover, those fossils that are considered transitional fossils are often subjects of disagreement among biologists.”
Last week, the publishers returned their corrections, none of which included proposed changes to the discussions of evolution or climate patterns and climate-change science,?resisting the political pressure in favor of solid science. The board will not make its final selections until November though it is likely that the board will have no option but to accept textbooks that include solid accepted science about evolution and climate change.
Edited/published by: SB