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Wall Street Journal: Texas Opens Classroom Door for Evolution Doubts

John G. West

Although incorrect at points, the Wall Street Journal’s article on the new Texas science standards is more accurate than some of the local reporting. The key thing the Journal gets right is that the Board definitely opened the door to critically analyzing evolution in the classroom. Unfortunately, the article omits or mangles a lot of the details. For one thing, the article doesn’t mention the new critical inquiry standard requiring students to “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations…including examining all sides of scientific evidence… so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.” The story also garbles things when it states that “the board voted down curriculum standards questioning the evolutionary principle that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry.” No, the Board rejected one such standard offered by Board chair Don McElroy, but it left untouched another standard that already required students to “analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies, including anatomical, molecular, and developmental.” This standard that was left intact clearly mandates that students “evaluate” the evidence for common ancestry. Moreover, McElroy’s original amendment on common ancestry and the fossil record was rewritten and then reinserted. (The rewritten version requires students to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”) The Journal article also misrepresents the language in the science standards about the Big Bang, implying that it was designed to allow the teaching of Biblical young-earth creationism. That’s absolutely false, as the Board member who proposed the wording made crystal clear during the Board’s deliberations.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.