9:43 am CST - March 30, 2009
Posted under Opinion
Ken Mercer, Texas State Board of Education (SBOE)
Common sense, combined with the pressure of at least 14,000 constituent communications in favor of allowing students to discuss all sides of science theories, finally prevailed.
On Thursday at the Texas State Board of Education meeting, I moved to restore the twenty-year standard of “strengths and weaknesses” to the new science TEKS (standards). These standards will guide teachers and textbooks for the next ten years. My motion failed by a 7-7 vote.
The radical liberals, Darwinists, atheists, and secular humanists attending the meeting from around the country quickly claimed victory and congratulated themselves; the print and TV reporters ran to file their stories.
By Friday afternoon, however, these same people’s language had “evolved” (pardon the pun) to words and remarks that cannot be put in print.
Friday morning, my fellow conservative board member, Cynthia Dunbar (R- Richmond), proposed a final amendment to the language. After two slight language amendments to Dunbar’s motion by two other Board members, the majority of the Board united behind the amendment and voted 13-2 to pass the final TEKS language regarding science curriculum.
The language passed with the following statement:
In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.
Clearly, the important legislative intent is to protect the academic freedom of Texas students. Our students should no longer feel “chilled” from having class discussions about both the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including evolution.
Every conservative organization present, including Texas Eagle Forum and Free Market Foundation, applauded this new language as a huge victory for Texas students.
Texas School Law Attorney, Kelly Coghlan, while disappointed that the important word “weaknesses” was deleted, stated:
“Textbooks and teachers will be required to teach ‘all sides’ (scientific evidence both for and against, supportive and not supportive) of a scientific theory. I believe the new language implicitly requires that weaknesses be taught and is just as strong as the old language.”
Yes, I realize some of the print media reported the story incorrectly; they should have stayed around long enough to get their facts straight and to hear the heated and offensive remarks made by the liberal opposition when the final Science TEKS language was approved.
The headline on the website for Texans for Better Science Education stated it best:
“Darwinist monopoly on public schools decisively broken in Texas…Darwinists confused…Militant Secular Humanists outraged”
The Wall Street Journal reported correctly on Saturday:
“The Texas Board of Education approved a science curriculum that opens the door for teachers and textbooks to raise doubts about evolution.”
In conclusion, my favorite memory was a remark from one of the California atheists who sat behind my desk on the floor of the SBOE. After we passed one historic amendment after another, this atheist cried out: “Oh my God!” I could not have stated it better myself.