Darwinists oppose balance on science standards committees
AUSTIN - Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today sharply criticized the inclusion of three strident evolution opponents, including two authors of an anti-evolution textbook, on a panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The inclusion of the two textbook authors raises serious questions about conflicts of interest and whether political agendas took priority over giving Texas students a 21st-century science education, Miller said.
“It’s simply stunning that any state board members would even consider appointing authors of an anti-evolution textbook to a panel of scientists,” she said. “Are they coming here to help write good science standards or to drum up a market for their lousy textbook?”
As the Discovery Institute points out, Darwinist panel nominees David Hillis and Gerald Skoog also have a "conflict of interest" because they are also authors of biology textbooks.
The TFN webpage continues,
The textbook, Explore Evolution, is intended for secondary schools and colleges, according to its U.S. distributor, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle. Because of that, the State Board of Education could consider it for the state’s approved list of science textbooks in 2011.
The two authors are Stephen Meyer, who is vice president of the Discovery Institute, and Ralph Seelke, a professor of the department of biology and earth sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. A third panel member, Charles Garner, is a professor of chemistry at Baylor University in Waco.
All three are supporters of the anti-evolution concept “intelligent design”/creationism and have signed the Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwinism” statement. In addition to their textbook, Meyer and Seelke testified in 2005 against evolution in hearings called by religious conservatives who controlled the Kansas State Board of Education.
Texas state board members nominated all six panelists. The three other members of the review panel are Texas scientists with long, distinguished resumes:David Hillis, professor of integrative biology and director of the Center of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin;
Ronald K. Wetherington, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence;
Gerald Skoog, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Texas Tech and co-director of the Center for Integration of Science Education and Research
The Darwinists are quick to accuse Meyer, Seelke, and Garner of bias while ignoring the biases of the other three nominees, Hillis, Wetherington, and Skoog. David Hillis was a speaker at a press conference of the 21st Century Science Coalition, which seeks to remove the ~ 20-year-old "strengths and weaknesses" language from the state science standards. Gerald Skoog has also been a pro-Darwinist activist and is a signer of the coalition's statement that opposes the "strengths and weaknesses" language. Ronald Wetherington opposed the holding of a "Darwin v. Design" conference at SMU last year (to his credit, Wetherington has not signed the 21st Century Science Coalition's statement opposing the "strengths and weaknesses" language -- yet). So none of the 6 nominees for the panel is neutral and the nominees are evenly divided between dogmatic Darwinists and Darwin doubters.
It was reported that
Darwin doubters are not asking for the moon -- mainly they are just asking for retention of the "strengths and weaknesses" language that has been in the standards for 20 years or more.
The TFN webpage says,
“Texas universities boast some of the leading scientists in the world,” Miller said. “It’s appalling that some state board members turned to out-of-state ideologues to decide whether Texas kids get a 21st-century science education.”
If Meyer and Seelke supported the TFN agenda, TFN would not object to their being from out-of-state.
News articles about the selection of the nominees for the panel are here and here.
Darwinists are opposed to any kind of balance on science standards committees. Why does every member of a state science-standards committee have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist? Why shouldn't the many people who are in favor of keeping the "strengths and weaknesses" language be represented on the standards committees? Also, the Darwinists really loused up the recently adopted Florida state science standards. The Florida science standards say that "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology." That's just plain wrong -- how can that be true when 13% of respondents in a recent national survey of science teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that an "excellent" biology course could exist that does not mention Darwin or evolution theory at all? And the Florida science standards say that "scientific theories" are by definition "well-supported" and "widely accepted." That's ridiculous -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories.
I called the Texas Education Agency yesterday and asked when they are going to post the online form for commenting about the proposed new science standards and they told me that they are working on it and did not give me a firm release date. The proposed standards were released nearly four weeks ago and time's a-wasting -- there is going to be some kind of preliminary hearing or decision in November (there will be further hearings and a final decision will be made some time next year).