After months of hearing debates over Texas science education standards, the 15-member State Board of Education voted to remove the requirement for teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories, such as evolution, and instead adopted a requisite for students to critically analyze and evaluate “all sides of scientific evidence.”
The board voted 13-2 in favor of the new curriculum requirements, which state:
In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.
However, despite meeting their goal to get the “strengths and weaknesses” language dropped from the standards, Darwinists have rejected Texas’ effort to “encourage critical thinking by students.”
“This is a setback for science education in Texas, not a draw, not a victory,” said Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the pro-evolution lobbyist group National Center for Science Education.1
“Having students ‘analyze and evaluate all sides of scientific evidence’ is code that gives creationists a green light to attack biology textbooks,” said NCSE project director Josh Rosenau.1
But isn’t analyzing and evaluating what science is all about? Are not scientists supposed to thoroughly examine scientific evidence in order to come to a solid and indisputable conclusion? And isn’t fostering critical thinking among students the aim of all classroom teaching, particularly in public science education? Why would anyone, regardless of worldview bias, want to deny students the opportunity to critically think and follow the evidence wherever it may lead?
The issue isn’t merely academic, but has applications to all areas of scientific endeavor. If a scientist developed a pharmaceutical drug, wouldn’t patients want to be assured that the drug had been thoroughly analyzed for its drawbacks as well as its benefits? If an aircraft designer engineered a new wing design, wouldn’t pilots and passengers want to know that the data from the flight tests underwent intensive scrutiny to find possible dangers before implementation on real airplanes?
The new standards will take effect for the 2010-2011 school year. This makes Texas one of seven other states that specifically require students to critically analyze scientific theories, including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Two states, Mississippi and Louisiana,2 have passed academic freedom measures for teachers and students to discuss scientific evidence critical to Darwinism. This may be a “setback” for supporters of evolution, but it is a victory for science.
- Science setback for Texas schools. National Center for Science Education press release, March 30, 2009.
- Dao, C. Louisiana the Only State to Promote Academic Freedom (So Far). ICR News. Posted on icr.org on July 23, 2008, accessed April 1, 2009.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on April 3, 2009.