Originally Posted: September 26, 2016
A state committee has drafted preliminary recommendations that would no longer require Texas public high school biology teachers to teach theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution.
The State Board of Education has tasked a 10-member committee of school district officials and scholars to whittle down the state’s biology curriculum standards, also called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The streamlining comes as teachers have long complained that the amount of material the state requires them to teach in all subjects is too voluminous to cover in a school year.
At its July meeting, a majority of the biology committee took a preliminary vote to remove, among others, four curriculum standards that some members say challenge the theory of evolution.
Skeptics of evolution say the standards in question — out of 58 total biology standards — are meant to spur students’ critical thinking on scientific evidence that evolution can’t readily explain. Evolution proponents say the four standards promote the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.
“I don’t advocate for any kind of creationism to be taught in the school. That does not belong in the TEKS. I’m simply concerned about the fair representation of the evidence for evolution,” said Ray Bohlin, one of two committee members who opposed removing the four standards. Bohlin works for Probe Ministries in Plano and holds a doctorate in cell and molecular biology.
Fellow committee member Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University, said he and others voted to remove the standards because they are redundant and irrelevant.
“How can we improve the TEKS by paring it down and giving you more time to teach what you need to teach? For the most part, we were looking at duplications, non sequitur and grammatical problems, and other structural problems in the TEKS that made it difficult to interpret,” Wetherington said.
He said he believes the standards he wants to remove promote creationism and intelligent design, but that wasn’t the primary reason he’s in favor of striking them. READ MORE