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Creationists Target Science Instructional Materials in Texas

SBOE Members Seed Official Review Teams with Anti-Science Activists


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2011

Continuing a long and misguided campaign that will undermine science education in Texas public schools, members of the State Board of Education have succeeded in seeding review teams for proposed new instructional materials with strident creationists and evolution deniers, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

"This is just one more step in an almost obsessive campaign by some state board members to promote their own personal and ideological beliefs, not mainstream science, in Texas classrooms," TFN President Kathy Miller said. "Just as they did when revising science curriculum standards two years ago, they have once again appointed reviewers whose primary qualifications seem to be their anti-evolution credentials. And it's one more reason why we support efforts by responsible legislators to give teachers and scholars a stronger role in deciding what students learn in our public schools."

The State Board of Education is scheduled in July to adopt new science instructional materials proposed by publishers and other vendors. Those materials could be used in classrooms for a decade. State board members nominated candidates to serve on official teams that will review those materials next month. Texas Education Agency staff put together the review teams. The team for high school biology will include 24 reviewers. Among the evolution deniers on the biology panel:

- Ide Trotter (nominated by state board member Terri Leo, R-Spring) is a longtime standard-bearer for the creationist movement in Texas, both as a source of funding and as a spokesperson for one of the state's leading creationist groups. In fact, the veteran culture warrior has testified before the State Board of Education in past science textbook and curriculum adoptions, insisting that the board water down instruction on evolution and promote creationist arguments such as "intelligent design."

- David Shormann (nominated by state board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands) is an outspoken evolution denier who believes "creationism, not evolution, is the best way to interpret life's origins." Shormann writes on his blog, Studying His Word and His Works (http://drshormann.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/natural-history-is-not-science/), that "physical and written testimony" proves that Earth is only 6,000 years old.

- Richard White (nominated by state board chairwoman Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas) indicates no teaching experience on his application to serve on the review team. In 2009 he testified before the state board in favor of including arguments against evolution in new science curriculum standards.

Last month the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education identified proposed materials from one vendor, New Mexico-based International Databases, which promote intelligent design/creationism as real science. Now evolution deniers on the review teams will likely use their positions as a podium to promote the same flawed arguments, Miller said.

"Even if supporters of teaching sound science in public schools succeed in keeping junk science out of our children's classrooms, some State Board of Education members seem determined to drag our state's educational reputation through the mud once again," Miller said. "The sad fact is that the state board has turned science education in Texas into an almost unending culture war battle, and our kids and their future are the casualties."

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and civil liberties.

 

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