Science Education Triumphs in Texas

Moments ago TFN released the following statement on the vote this morning at the State Board of Education:

TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK STATEMENT
TFN PRESIDENT KATHY MILLER: TEXAS KIDS, SOUND SCIENCE EDUCATION TRIUMPH IN SBOE VOTE

New Instructional Materials Teach Sound Evolutionary Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 22, 2011

Today the State Board of Education voted to adopt the Texas education commissioner’s recommended list of science instructional materials. Special interest groups and activists off the state board failed in their efforts to force publishers to change their instructional materials to include arguments against evolutionary science. In addition, the board voted unanimously to reject the adoption of instructional materials from a New Mexico-based vendor that promoted “intelligent design”/creationism.

The following statement is from TFN President Kathy Miller:

“Today we saw Texas kids and sound science finally win a vote on the State Board of Education. Now our public schools can focus on teaching their students fact-based science that will prepare them for college and a 21st-century economy. And our schoolchildren won’t be held hostage to bad decisions made by a politicized board that adopted flawed science curriculum standards two years ago. Moreover, today we saw that the far right’s stranglehold over the state board is finally loosening after last year’s elections. That’s very good news for public education in Texas.”

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

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35 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    There’s no way the Earth is just 5000 years old, but this is what I think is truly amazing. Most young Earth creationists see to think that 5000 years is a rea-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng time.

    In the real scheme of things, 5000 years is not even enough time to bat an eye lash. I think the problem with them is the same that the right Reverend Bruce Prescott says, “The Christian fundamentalist view of God is just not big enough.”

  2. ChrisC
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    @mcoville: given the choice to stake my life on the 4.5 billion year theory, or the 5000 year theory in the bible, I’d certainly stake my life on the former.

  3. Posted July 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    @thompjs: are you positive? would you stake your life on it?

  4. thompjs
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    mcoville: How old is the earth? Try 4.5 billion years give or take a few million.

  5. Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Holytape:
    “You ignored the questions at hand. How old is the earth?” I don’t know.

    “Did humans and other animals evolve?” Yes.

    “And I’ll add another: How is using a supernatural causal agent to explain the origins of our species any different than using a supernatural causal agent such as a toot fairy to explain how the quarter got under my pillow as a child?” Sorry, this is a fallacy of false analogy.

    “P.S. Of the people who still believe a flat earth, all of them are religious people.” The only religious people I know that believe in a flat earth are Atheists.

  6. Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your effective work here!

    Also, thanks are due to mcoville for illustrating to us the kind of knee-jerk backwoods ignorance that we face every day in Texsas.

  7. Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    mcoville,

    You ignored the questions at hand. How old is the earth? Did humans and other animals evolve? And I’ll add another: How is using a supernatural causal agent to explain the origins of our species any different than using a supernatural causal agent such as a toot fairy to explain how the quarter got under my pillow as a child?

    P.S. Of the people who still believe a flat earth, all of them are religious people.

  8. Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    der Brat Says: To mcoville: I suppose you also mourn the absence of stork theory in sex-ed classes, no tooth fairy in economics class, and no flat earth in geography lessons. Yes, for some it’s a sad day when science classes have to stick to science and not superstitious fantasy.

    Sorry der Brat, only ignorant atheists ever believed in a stork, tooth fairy or a flat earth. I only agree with rational science.

  9. Charles
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m just wondering who he is calling a secular humanist?

  10. Jeffw
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I’ll add my hurrah to the party…it’s a good day for Texas! Alas, we’ve won only a battle, the luddites haven’t gone away. I’ve been arguing this stuff with creationists for years, my personal experience is they rarely learn anything. You politely explain evolution doesn’t deal with abio and the next day they’re back ranting the same, silly ‘you know what’ all over again. In my less than humble opinion, no young earth creationist should be allowed within 10 miles of a board of education, much less holding a chair.

  11. GP007
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    mr logical – How do you know who was praying at Lincolns bedside, and to whom they were praying? Was it the Protestant, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, Southern Baptist or Catholic god to whom they were praying? Your point, and you fail to realize it, is that these people were in fact free to pray to whom ever or whatever they chose without fear of reprisals from the government.

    How many people will we be burning at the stake in future years because they engage in blasphemy? The Puritans burned innocent people at the stake because they were not Christian enough for their taste. And I remind you, these executions were state sanctioned.

    You think we are a Christian nation. I counter that we are a nation of Christians. I hope the distinction is not lost on you.

    How is secularism a crime against human society? As for the constitutional framers, many were deists. Many had divergent beliefs. The religious views of the framers was diverse enough for them to realize that government had no business regulating any religion. That is the point of the first amendment.

    Of course some see that as a one way street, meaning that while government can not establish an official religion, religion can certainly leverage government to their own self interests.

    The problem with religious zealots leveraging the government to benefit their religion is that ultimately laws passed to enable, support or otherwise tacitly approve of a religious doctrine, is indeed government interfering with religion. Perhaps not for the majority religion to which the government endorses, but for any other religion not of the same faith, belief or doctrine there is an obvious disadvantage. Christians running the government would be less likely to pass laws that benefit competing dogmas. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Budhists and the like would be marginalized.

    Mixing religion and government is a dangerously slippery slope. One need not examine history to see the damage created by such action. There are numerous examples in our world today that speak the the horrors that are the very logical conclusions to governing by religious ideology.

    There may come a time in our countries future where Christians are the minority. There may also come a time when Caucasians are in the minority. What then? The framers were only interested in establishing and protecting the rights of white Christians?

    I’ll keep my god out of your life so long as you keep your god out of my life. I’m pretty sure your god didn’t pave the roads in my town as I’m sure my god didn’t ensure your water is safe to drink seven days a week.

  12. mr logical
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    and yeah i am sure that on the night President Lincoln lay in bed in the last hours of his life, that those surrounding him, praying for him, and his family, were praying to some self-worshipping delusional secular humanist, right? or, should i post about 10 million other examples of our country’s elected, including the constitutional framers, praying to an almight God? for all you secular humanists, you might want to give the self-worship a rest for a few minutes a day, and comtemplate the gap in your soul….just sayin

  13. Charles
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    It is really about certain kinds of people and the phrase “run over there.”

    Back in my Baptist church days, a 30-something couple from Maryland was in my Sunday school class and told us their story. All of their lives they had been trying to identify the “right thing to do” to make their lives happy, whole, and complete. In their late teens years, they were told that the right thing to do in life was to run over there, drop out of society, and live as hippies. They ran over there, tried it, and got into trouble and unhappiness. Then they were told that the right thing to do was run over there to another place, get high on drugs all day, and live the druggie life. They ran over there, tried it, and got into trouble and unhappiness. They were told later that the right thing to do was run over there and try “free love” They did and got into trouble and unhappiness.

    Yes, I know. It sounds like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, but this is going somewhere.

    Apparently, after a number of similarly bad decisions in life had eaten them up, someone said, “The right thing to do is run over there to a far right wing Southern Baptist Convention church, latch onto their ‘inerrant’ Bible, and let their understanding of it tell you everything to do in life.” Well, they ran over there, did it, and for the time being, they looked to have finally found happiness.

    However, one thing in general that I observed about this couple was that they appeared to have lived all of their lives in ignorance and naivety. For example, we were doing a Sunday school lesson, and the subject of prostitution came up. One member of the class exclaimed that it had long been known as the “oldest profession.” The female half of the couple in question raised her hand in surprise and said quite seriously, “I-I-I don’t understand. I thought bad sexual behavior was mostly a recent thing??? Do you mean it goes all the way back into ancient times???” Sorry to say, this was a college-educated couple—University of Maryland—I think.

    But this is my point. Regardless of education, some people really do appear not to have a lick of common sense and virtually no ability to gather messages from their environment, process them wisely, and make good decisions on the basis of a sound analysis. Floating dead in the water of life and going nowhere, they nonetheless sense that they need to be getting on with something. So, they look around for a trend or try to sense what everyone else is doing, and “run over there” to find happiness and completion. Apparently, they are even unable to properly judge the fact that all of the other people who are “running over there” are just some small, deluded fraction of the population.

    Extremist religion and an “inerrant” Bible appear to me to be a light bulb that attracts this peculiar fraction of people to it like moths on a sultry summer night. They desperately need someone or some thing outside of themselves to tell them the right thing to do, the right thing to believe, and the right actions to take to make life finally be safe and satisfying. They are like 3-year-olds that never grew up and thus never acquired the ability to lead their own lives in a wise manner.

    Hard as I am on the Christian fundamentalists and far right Evangelicals, I sometimes stop, consider, and admit that a loving God may have indeed established these kinds of churches specifically for the protection of this small band of people who would be otherwise totally disabled, eaten up, and spit out by life because of their assorted inabilities to wisely engage life.

    Just a thought.

  14. berkeleybarb
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Lorenzo Sadun: Excellent response to the creationist above. What it has always looked like to me is a conflict between people who understand that not knowing the whole picture doesn’t mean there is no whole picture, and people who are afraid when they can’t put every detail into place. Give me the entire answer! Give me a complete, pretty little story I can hold onto, which will never change! Science is not facts, it is a rigorous process of finding things out about nature; and it is this process, unencumbered by the false stories of creationists (including the current guise of “intelligent design” advocates) that students need to learn.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    At this stage of our understanding of the natural world, I think there is ample room for both science and religion to co-exist. They should not be considered mutually exclusive.

    That said, I prefer to believe in the predictability of theories over one of a multitude of faiths in a higher power. I like being able to explain why the bulb brightens when I flip a switch. I don’t think it is affront to any faith when we describe the mechanics of the natural world.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    This is good news, without a doubt. But, is there anything to stop local school districts from buying whatever supplementary materials they want, including creationist ones?

  17. Robin Sherman
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness reason can still win out occasionally!

  18. Posted July 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    … at the time I was pretty sure nobody was paying attention.

    Maybe you got that impression from the members of the Board?

  19. abb3w
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Tony Whitson: He was reduced to his one song about morphology and biochemistry. I wonder what he thinks is the significance of that?

    I suspect he thinks that since the morphology and biochemistry taxa do not line up exactly, it’s indicating a major flaw. However, that’s no more valid than trying to criticize the periodic table by noting tellurium’s atomic weight is higher than iodine, despite the two elements’ relative positions in the table based on the chemical properties.

  20. Philby
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    This really is a giant step in the right direction regarding education in Texas. Hopefully this will encourage people in others states to follow suit in advocating for valid science instruction. I have only been following this topic peripherally, but I would like to know if this will also impact the teaching of phenomena such as global warming as well as evolution. The creationist mindset seems to be active in the global warming denier camp as well. This topic is extremely important and it should be properly addressed in science classes. Anyone?

  21. Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh how I wish I had been able to be there. Unfortunately, this heat is forcing me to stay inside. First, YIPPIE! And congratulations to TFN for leading the good fight for intelligence. Funny-mentalists will have to move onto other areas such as how Adam and Eve were supposedly created in what today is Iran when science has proven that human life began in Africa. der Brat, your comments were beautiful; I wish I had said what you did.

    mcoville is a far right wingnut. Click on his name to see the proof of that statement. He hates Obama and Progressives…why is it that people like that think that children must be fed fairy tales in school? He said, “I pray that those cheering this decision will understand the damage they are doing to the children. Thanks to actions like this we seeing a dumbing down of a younger generation that one day will lead this nation, and God help us when they do.” I’d like to know how lying to our children is harming them. You want children to believe that rabbits lay multicolored eggs? Do you know that the Hebrew word Pesach was deliberately mistranslated to Easter to bring pagan influences to Christianity? The goddess Ishtar was the goddess of fertility. What procreates faster than rabbits? Telling that lie to kids IS harming them; telling the truth does not.

    The damage that was being proposed would damage our children beyond measure and the “dumbing down” is precisely what people like you wish to do. Can anyone with a functioning brain imagine what would happen to a Texas child when attempting to attend a university first heard about evolution in a college class? When he or she said “No, that is not right! God took some dust and breathed it into it and life happened.” When the class stopped laughing, I wonder how that “dumbed down” child would feel?

    I have studied the Tenach and the Christian books for over 40 years in an attempt to square them with reality. The conclusion I came to was that it was IMPOSSIBLE TO READ THOSE BOOKS LITERALLY. ALL WHO ATTEMPT TO DO THAT IS A MENTALLY UNSTABLE PERSON.

    The Amish teach their kids that the earth if flat because one tiny portion of the books say “the four corners of the earth.” The problem is that the word is a Hebrew word, KANAPH. It means “extremity” or “the ends” not “corners,” yet Amish use the few places in which the word kanaph is used to mean “corners.” A youngster who was on his break from the Amish community saw a picture of the earth taken from space to show one of the Amish leaders that the earth was round. The kid was so badly beaten that he almost died. Yeah, that’s the ticket, he really go dumbed down.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses read that Leviticus 17 said not to eat blood. That was written to the Jewish people, not the world as a whole. But they won’t take a transfusion because they think it is “eating blood.” And the word used in that particular chapter is translated as “abomination” which Christians use to damn homosexuals.

    I have visited some churches from time-to-time because a friend had asked me to attend their place of worship. I damned near choked to death when the preacher not only mispronounced a Greek word, but gave a totally impossible “translation” of the word; he even misused the tense and voice! My friend asked, “Isn’t he great?” My answer was to get up and leave. Improper translations, incomprehensible pronunciations are used in by supposedly wise people who don’t know an Aleph from an Alpha.

    I’m almost done, I just have to thank all who spoke to the board for bringing sense into our schools and to TFN for leading the good fight.

  22. Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    mcoville: facts are stubborn things; they don’t go away when they conflict with your views. or mine.

    this decision means that children will learn how to think. they will learn the way things occurred, rather than depending on magic. the place for religion is in church or religious schools; not in public schools and not in science classes.

    if religion wishes to intrude in the classrooms, they should do so sensibly: as a course in comparative religions. although most citizens of this country identify with Christianity, all religions are equal in the eyes of government. . .and possibly God as well. no religion should dominate public policy, unless you wish to start us down a road which will end up as another Iran.

  23. JAK
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s so nice to have a victory for education!

  24. SilverQueen
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This is wonderful news. What an expensive, unnecessary battle. I so thought that Texas was beyond such hoopla, but we continue to regress under our Republican regime.

  25. der Brat
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the thanks — at the time I was pretty sure nobody was paying attention.

  26. Lorenzo Sadun
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    To mcoville: Students *certainly* need to review the evidence, and not just take evolution on faith. That would be as bad as taking creationism on faith. But they don’t need to have a lot of bogus arguments about “gaps in the fossil record” or “irreducible complexity” thrown at them, and they don’t need to have the actual data censored (e.g., what the social conservatives tried to force Holt to do).

    What the social conservatives are trying to push isn’t thoughtful analysis or clarity. Just the opposite. They’re merely trying to muddy the waters, so the whole question of evolution descends into a “he said, she said” narrative, with lots of doubt and little understanding. Thankfully, the board majority rejected that approach.

    For the record, there *are* gaps in the fossil record, and irreducible complexity is an interesting concept that sheds light on how evolution follows certain pathways and not others. However, most of the gaps that creationists cite have long been filled, and the biological features that are claimed to be irreducibly complex flat-out aren’t. I’d be happy to provide more detail if you’re interested.

  27. Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    der Brat: Thanks for your testimony yesterday.

  28. Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Obviously Rick Perry told the wingnuts on the SBOE to knock it off and not complicate his bid for President.

    That’s interesting and plausible, given Perry’s backing away from the sponsors & participants in his upcoming prayer fest.

    On the other hand, the survivors of the old gang of 7 seemed quite at a loss for what to do, without McLeroy & Dunbar there to lead them.

    Mercer was just pitiful. He was reduced to his one song about morphology and biochemistry. I wonder what he thinks is the significance of that?

    The crucial player was Scott, and I think he committed to his TEA recommendations before Perry’s pivot on the GOP nomination (but I could be wrong).

    How Scott came around to taking a stand for science education is the real story worth pursuit by journalists.

  29. Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Good work, TFN!

  30. Piedmont
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Obviously Rick Perry told the wingnuts on the SBOE to knock it off and not complicate his bid for President.

  31. der Brat
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    To mcoville: I suppose you also mourn the absence of stork theory in sex-ed classes, no tooth fairy in economics class, and no flat earth in geography lessons. Yes, for some it’s a sad day when science classes have to stick to science and not superstitious fantasy.

  32. Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    mcoville – thanks for the comment, can you please expand on some of your comments?

    “Kids are being taught what to think and not how to think.”
    I don’t understand, kids are being taught science facts, if the facts change, what they will be taught will change. Or are you suggesting since science facts contradict your religious views, they should not be taught in public schools?

    “we seeing a dumbing down of a younger generation”
    Can you expand on how teaching science facts dumbs down the younger generation?

    If it was up to you, how would a 7th grade public school science teacher answer the following student questions?

    1) How old is the earth?
    2) Is evolution true?
    3) Did humans evolve?

    Thanks again for posting your thoughts / comment.

  33. Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I weep for the lost of intelligence in America. Kids are being taught what to think and not how to think.

    I pray that those cheering this decision will understand the damage they are doing to the children. Thanks to actions like this we seeing a dumbing down of a younger generation that one day will lead this nation, and God help us when they do.

  34. Ben
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Well done.

  35. Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! A real cause for celebration!

    I’ve been following this very closely since 2008, and I appreciate the great, constant efforts of TFN.

    So, How to celebrate? I went to http://www.tfn.org/ and then, under the “Get Involved” tab, I found “become a member,” clicked on that, and joined with a small donation.

    I hope that others will join as well.

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