As noted in The New York Times and elsewhere, the panel in Texas responsible for reviewing biology textbook submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth. Publishers have submitted 14 biology textbooks for consideration this year.
The situation is troublesome for several key reasons. Some parents in Texas worry that if the teaching of basic scientific theories — that have now been internally accepted for decades—is eroded, their children will not be able to compete for jobs that require a rigorous scientific background, or will be disadvantaged in college science courses. Another concern is the introduction of beliefs based upon religious views — such as “creation science” — into public school classrooms. As noted, in a recent survey by Penn State political scientists, one in eight high school biology teachers have taught creationism or intelligent design as valid scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution.
Historically, give the state’s size, decisions made on textbooks for Texas strongly influences what textbooks are published and available in other states as well. However, given the availability of on-line editions, Texas’s impact has been somewhat diminished. Also, asThe New York Times notes, publishers are also likely to be influenced by the scientific standards developed by representatives of twenty-six state governments and groups of scientists and teachers, already officially adopted by seven states. The Texas state board will vote on a final approved list of textbooks in November. Read more…
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