On Friday, March 26, the Texas Board of Education struck down a bill that required evolution be taught with consideration of the “strengths and weaknesses” of the theory. The new bill, however, is not a striking victory for advocates of depolicized, science-based education. According to the NCSE:
…the revised biology standard (7B) reflects two discredited creationist ideas — that “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the fossil record somehow disprove evolution. The new standard directs students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of groups in the fossil records.” Other new standards include language such as “is thought to” or “proposed transitional fossils” to make evolutionary concepts seem more tentative.
According to the New York Times,
The debate over new curriculum requirements … stands to influence educational standards nationwide. Once every decade, major textbook publishers revise their offerings to match the requirements newly set forth by Texas, which is one of their largest bulk customers.
Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that in response to the Board’s decision, some Texas lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce the Board’s influence. According to the article,
The most far-reaching proposals would strip the Texas board of its authority to set curricula and approve textbooks. Depending on the bill, that power would be transferred to the state education agency, a legislative board or the commissioner of education. …
Over the years, the Texas board has been aggressive about editing submitted textbooks before granting approval. Publishers have been asked to delete — among other things — favorable references to Islam, discussions of global warming, and illustrations of breast and testicular self-exams…