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Survey of Texas University Faculty: Overwhelming Opposition to Watering Down Evolution in School Science Curriculum

Statewide Survey Dispels Myth about ‘Controversy’ in Science Community, Reveals Deep Concerns about Student Preparation for College and Future Jobs

AUSTIN - A first-time statewide survey shows that science faculty at public and private universities in Texas soundly reject arguments promoted by opponents of scientific evolution, according to a new report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

“This survey leaves no doubt that the political crusade against evolution and other attempts to dumb down our public school science curriculum are deeply misguided,” TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said today. “Texas scientists are clearly worried that failing to provide a 21st-century science education in our public schools will harm our children’s chances to succeed in college and the jobs of the future."

The TFN Education Fund conducted the survey in conjunction with Dr. Raymond Eve, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Arlington in early 2008. The survey went to the 1,019 biologists and biological anthropologists on the faculty of all 35 public and the 15 largest private colleges and universities in Texas. An astonishing 45 percent of science faculty from 49 of those institutions responded to the survey, said Prof. Eve.

“Many of these science faculty members almost certainly help determine who gets into our state’s colleges and universities,” Eve said. “Their responses should send parents a clear message that those who want to play politics with science education are putting our kids at risk.”

The survey results are contained in a new report, Evolution, Creationism and Public Education: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century.

The report highlights five key findings from the survey:

1. Texas scientists (97.7 percent) overwhelmingly reject “intelligent design” as valid science.

2. Texas science faculty (95 percent) want only evolution taught in science classrooms.

3. Scientists reject teaching the so-called “weaknesses” of evolution, with 94 percent saying that those arguments are not valid scientific objections to evolution.

4. Science faculty believe that emphasizing “weaknesses” of evolution would substantially harm students’ college readiness (79.6 percent) and ability to compete for 21st-century jobs (72 percent).

5. Scientists (91 percent) strongly believe that support for evolution is compatible with religious faith.

The survey results show that politicians who argue that there is a scientific controversy over evolution are not supported by scientists even in a state as conservative as Texas, Miller said.

“There is now no doubt that arguments about a ‘controversy’ among scientists are a fiction devised as a political strategy,” Miller said. “The only real controversy here is whether the personal beliefs of politicians on the state board will trump established, mainstream science and threaten a 21st-century education for our schoolchildren.”

The release of the survey comes as the Texas State Board of Education continues work on revising the science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The state board is set to adopt the revised standards in March 2009.

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The Texas Freedom Network Education Fun is a nonpartisan research and citizen education organization that works on issues involving religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.

 

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