Creationists Build a Legislative Strategy

The National Center for Science Education reports that lawmakers in New Mexico will consider what is currently the fifth anti-evolution bill filed in state legislatures across the country. The bill in New Mexico is similar to legislation filed in that state two years ago. It would encourage instruction about “strengths and weaknesses” of “controversial” scientific topics (such as evolution and climate change) in public school science classrooms.

Creationists and other anti-science activists have tried to use the “strengths and weaknesses” strategy to promote junk science arguments in classrooms across the country, especially in Texas. The Texas Freedom Network, NCSE and other allies worked together successfully in 2009 to strip a “strengths and weaknesses” requirement from the Texas science curriculum standards.

NCSE also notes some differences between the 2009 and 2011 bills in New Mexico, including “the definition of the scientific information teachers would be allowed to present to their students about ‘controversial’ scientific topics”:

Both bills make a point of excluding information derived from religious “writings, beliefs or doctrines”; but where [the 2009 bill] provided, “‘scientific information’ may have religious or philosophical implications,” [the 2011 bill] provides, “‘[s]cientific information’ may include information that coincides or harmonizes with religious tenets” — which would appear to be intended to cover “intelligent design” creationism.

The other states currently considering anti-evolution legislation are Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma (two bills in Oklahoma). The Texas Freedom Network is on the watch should similar measures be filed in the Texas Legislature this session. Keep on eye on TFN Insider and TFN’s Legislative Watch page for updates. You can also help defend science and education in Texas by signing up for a TFN Rapid Response Team here.

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3 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Kimberly.

    Welcome to TFN Insider—the sensible teacher’s best friend. Yes, the new TEKS in science and social studies are a radical departure from traditional, mainline education in the United States.

    As a Christian myself, I can honestly say that the radical right faction on the Texas SBOE has injected fanatical Christian Neo-Fundamentalist ideology into the science TEKS. Translate that as: “Your apostate United Methodist children will now be taught right Christian doctrine at your local public school. Screw you parents and your church.”

    As a Christian myself, I can honestly say that the radical right faction on the Texas SBOE has injected fanatical Christian Neo-Fundamentalist ideology and politics into the social studies TEKS. Translate that as: “The suffering and deaths of thousands of Cherokee Indian men, women, and children on the historical winter death march known as the Trail of Tears was actually God’s righteous will to punish the heathens for their sins and iniquities.” Never mind that they had adopted the white man’s ways, lived in log houses, spoke English, and were mostly evangelical Christians.

    Kimberly. The only thing you really need to know about what has happened to the Texas SBOE is that an evil force from another dimension of existence, masquerading as Christianity, has settled within it and its nature is best expressed by this short lady. Watch and listen closely:

  2. Kimberly
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I am a Texas teacher. Honestly I didn’t know the strengths and weaknesses TEKS was supposed to be anti-evolution, until the recent embarrassment of revising our science curriculum. I took it at face value. I have and will continue to show kids examples of bad science from the media, so they can compare it with the facts we learn and see the flaws.

    When we were teaching about adaptations (5th grade), I did have a teacher say “Isn’t that teaching evolution theory as fact.” My response was what else would I teach but science facts like evolution, adaptations, photosynthesis, and erosion. She didn’t like it – but it had the added benefit that she gave me a wide berth after that. (Very annoying co-worker).

  3. Doc Bill
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    The rethuglicans can strategerize all they want and pass all the bills they can vote, and I’m sure they’ll be Big Men on Campus for “taking back America” and all that.

    How-ev-er, Real Science Teachers ™ will ignore the loopholes and continue to teach Real Science ™. Any pseudo-science teacher or, more likely as in Dover, school administrator who attempts to bring creationism into the science classroom will end up in court. And they will lose as all creationists have lost. And the school district will be liable for court costs. See Dover, Pa.

    The legislators who voted the bills will not be accountable, nor will the DI or other creationist cheerleaders.

    It’s the school district and ultimately the taxpayers in that district who will foot the bill.

    You gotta love the morality lesson there!

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