June 17, 2024

Texas SBoE considering changing science again

The Texas Freedom Network notified me that our State Board of Education is once again attempting to insert language into the science standards of public schools that would allow creationist teachers to mislead their students–about evoltion and related aspects of the natural origin and development of biodiversity. The TFN asked me to email my concerns about that to the board. Here is what I said:
First, referring to:
§112.34. Biology, Adopted 2017 (c) Knowledge and skills, we find (9)(D) we find the following passage struck out.
“analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.”
There is no need to strike this out, as we now have plenty of good information on that which can be shared even at the high school level. I wrote an AP episode of our classroom supplement video series to assist with this:
Second, referring to:
§112.39. Physics, Adopted 2017, (c) Knowledge and skills
(3)(A) “analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.”
High school students have neither the scientific nor philosophical proficiency sufficient to “critique” scientific evidence. Neither do the majority of high school teachers for that matter. Instead of focusing on the real debates of when and how various events in evolution evidently occurred, those not well-versed in the subject would attempt to “critique” the evidence by suggesting there was any actual scientific debate over whether evolution happened at all. We certainly would not want to mislead students to believe in falsehoods when they rely on an accurate education in order to make properly informed decisions. I wrote a book explaining this in detail. The Texas State Board of Education is featured in this book repeatedly.
Third, referring to (4)(A)
“compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and evaluate scientific explanations for their complexity.”
Any discussion of their complexity should include reference to endosymbiosis and the fact that eukaryote cells have incorporated cyanobacteria as chloroplasts and rickettsia bacteria as mitochondria, such that these cells are influenced by accidental horizontal gene transfer and other incidental conditions. For more information, see my classroom supplement video on the origin of symbiotic organelles.
Finally, referring to: (7)(B)
“examine [analyze and evaluate] scientific explanations [concerning any data] of abrupt [sudden] appearance and [,] stasis [, and sequential nature of groups] in the fossil record;”
The only way to address this accurately and appropriately is to admit that to teach either a sudden appearance or subsequent stasis in the fossil record is at least misleading and no longer phylogenetically accurate. Instead the most that can be said is that there are one or two periods of profound proliferation–due to the opening of a whole new environment or condition. But that both of these show apparent precursors in previous periods. If there is intent to teach any trends within evolution, we should teach the natural laws specific to that field of science. Again, I happen to have a video explaining some of these.
I expect to follow-up this email on April 18th, by personally testifying before the Texas State Board of Education once again, along with several other advocates of accurate science education.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top