Re: [SACC-L] Times-Evolutionary Semantics, Texas-Style
- Thanks for keeping us up on this, George. One can indeed hope that
Texas teachers use common sense in teaching evolution as scientists
see it. One can also hope that textbook publishers aid rather than
hinder teachers in this effort. I recall some years ago that a survey
of science textbooks in Texas classrooms revealed that the term
"evolution" and related language were all but absent. Apparently,
well aware that school boards could exert much influence in textbook
purchases, publishers were more interested in selling their books than
On Mar 31, 2009, at 10:11 AM, George Thomas wrote:
> The NY Times ran as good a summary as any of the recent Texas Board
> of Education evolution battle. It seems the Austin American-
> Statesman decided after running an op-ed by the ultraconservative
> "young-earth" BoE chairman, that the chairman's op-ed was internally
> contradictory and self-defeating. Back at the Board, the vote was
> alarmingly close.
> ~ ~ ~ ~
> New York Times
> March 31, 2009
> Evolutionary Semantics, Texas-Style
> The Texas Board of Education gave grudging support last week to
> teaching the mainstream theory of evolution without the most
> troubling encumbrances sought by religious and social conservatives.
> But the margins on crucial amendments were disturbingly close,
> typically a single vote on a 15-member board, and compromise
> language left ample room for the struggle to continue.
> This was not a straightforward battle over whether to include
> creationism or its close cousin, intelligent design, in the science
> curriculum. That battle has been lost by Darwin�s opponents in the
> courts, the schools and most political arenas.
> Rather, this was a struggle to insert into the state science
> standards various phrases and code words that may seem innocuous or
> meaningless at first glance but could open the door to doubts about
> evolution. In the most ballyhooed vote, those like us who support
> the teaching of sound science can claim a narrow victory.
> Conservatives tried � but failed � to reinsert a phrase requiring
> students to study the �strengths and weaknesses� of all scientific
> theories, including evolution. That language had been in the
> standards for years, but it was eliminated by experts who prepared
> the new standards for board approval because it has become a banner
> for critics of Darwinian evolution who seek to exaggerate supposed
> weaknesses in the theory.
> The conservatives also narrowly lost attempts to have students study
> the �sufficiency or insufficiency� of natural selection to explain
> the complexities of the cell, a major issue for proponents of
> intelligent design. The conservatives also failed to get the word
> �sufficiency� inserted by itself, presumably because that would
> imply insufficiency as well. They had to settle for language
> requiring students to �analyze, evaluate and critique� scientific
> explanations and examine �all sides� of the scientific evidence.
> At the end of a tense, confusing three-day meeting, Darwin�s critics
> claimed that this and other compromise language amounted to a huge
> victory that would still allow their critiques into textbooks and
> classrooms. One can only hope that teachers in Texas will use common
> sense and teach evolution as scientists understand it.
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