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SCHOLARS GIVE PROPOSED BIOLOGY TEXTBOOKS THUMBS UP ON EVOLUTION COVERAGE

Report Comes as Flawed Official State Review Nears Completion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2013

Science scholars in Texas are giving thumbs up to coverage of evolution in proposed new high school biology textbooks, a new report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund shows. The report is available at www.tfn.org/2013sciencereview.

The findings of scholars at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University in Dallas are important because the State Board of Education’s official review process appears to be deeply flawed, TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said.

“It appears that publishers have done a good job resisting political pressure to weaken instruction on evolution with junk science in their new textbooks,” said Kathy Miller, president of the TFN Education Fund. “That should be reassuring for parents who want their kids to get a science education that prepares them for college and a 21st century economy. But we’re already seeing signs that the pressure on publishers will increase in the coming months.”

The TFN Education Fund asked science doctoral candidates at UT-Austin and SMU to review more than a dozen biology textbooks and online products publishers submitted for consideration by the State Board of Education (SBOE) in April. Their reviews found that the textbooks and online materials affirm evolution as factual, mainstream science. In addition, the textbooks reject arguments that the fossil record and a wealth of other scientific evidence are insufficient to support evolution.

“We found no instances in which publishers suggest the science behind evolution is weak or legitimately questioned,” Miller said. “Just as important, they don’t disparage the religious beliefs of people who reject evolution. These textbooks simply focus on teaching students what mainstream science, including the overwhelming scientific evidence, says about evolution.”

The SBOE is scheduled to adopt new science textbooks for Texas public schools in November. The textbooks could be in classrooms for a decade.

Some of the country’s most prominent evolution deniers got influential positions on official state review panels examining the new textbooks and online materials. One is Ide Trotter, a retired dean of business at Dallas Baptist University whose academic work was in chemical engineering. Others include engineers, chemists and a leader of a fundamentalist Christian ministry based in Plano. One official reviewer, retired Baylor University engineering professor Walter Bradley, co-authored a book that launched the “intelligent design” movement. “Intelligent design” is a form of creationism suggesting that a supposedly unidentified being or supernatural force directed the development of life.

Reports from the official review teams should be available to the public before the SBOE’s first public hearing on the new textbooks in late September.

The TFN Education Fund report is available at www.tfn.org/2013sciencereview.

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The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund conducts research and citizen education in support of religious freedom, individual liberties and strong public schools.

 

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