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Texas Evolution Lobby Making Power Grabs to Promote Their Censorship Agenda

A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article from last month, “Education Board in Texas Faces Curbs,” revealed how the Texas evolution-lobby has been seeking to use both censorship and power grabs to promote their agenda.  First, they sought to censor from Texas students any instruction on scientific weaknesses in evolution. Having lost that fight before the Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE), they have tried to use other tactics to punish the board for adopting science standards that teach evolution objectively, or to grab power away from the democratically elected board.

In a move that can only be attributed to political retribution, today Texas evolutionists successfully blocked the reappointment of Dr. Don McLeroy as chair of the TSBOE.  Practically speaking, this move will change little, as it is almost guaranteed that a like-minded conservative will be appointed in McLeroy’s place to chair the TSBOE.  The travesty here is that, to my knowledge, no one has put forth any legitimate charges that McLeroy was not fair-minded in how he chaired TSBOE meetings.  If this move will have little practical impact and Dr. McLeroy is a competent chair, why did the Texas evolution lobby push so hard for this ephemeral and pyrrhic media victory? The answer is simple: it’s political retribution from evolutionists who like to expel people whose politics don’t advance their pro-Darwin-only agenda.

The attack on McLeroy hasn’t been the only power-grab sought by the Texas evolution-lobby in recent weeks.  A number of bills submitted this session have sought to strip the Texas State Board of Education of its power to do things like set the curriculum or approve textbooks, or alternatively, to make the Board non-elected.  As the WSJ reported:

Some lawmakers — mostly Democrats — say they have had enough.

The most far-reaching proposals would strip the Texas board of its authority to set curricula and approve textbooks. Depending on the bill, that power would be transferred to the state education agency, a legislative board or the commissioner of education. Other bills would transform the board to an appointed rather than elected body, require Webcasting of meetings, and take away the board’s control of a vast pot of school funding.

A Texas political commentary blog offered a keen observation about what is going on here:

A lot of politicians — all too many of them Republicans — love to campaign on socially-conservative themes like pro-life and family values but then behind the scenes in Austin treat the social right like a bunch of lepers. This session, these politicians see an opportunity because of the change in House leadership and board’s recent highly publicized debate over the role of evolution in the science curriculum. So we’ve had a lot more hearings on bills to strip the board of its powers.

The Texas evolution-lobby has been cheering on these bills, which they call “bipartisan,” stating the following: “Senate Bill 2275 by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would strip the state board of authority over approving curriculum standards and textbooks (among other things).” According to the bill itself, it would result in “transferring authority from the State Board of Education to the commissioner of education.”

Thankfully, SB 2275 — a pure power-grab bill — does not seem to be going anywhere.

What makes evolutionists so scared that they must resort to these tactics? Contrary to the WSJ’s article, Texas students will not learn about “creationist objections” to evolution, but scientific challenges found in the mainstream peer-reviewed scientific literature. Teaching students about real science that challenges evolution is what the Texas evolution lobby fears the most. Thus, they are willing to resort to extreme tactics to enforce their agenda–even when it sharply contravenes the will of the people.

All this amounts to an attempt to take control of the public school curriculum out of the hands of qualified elected officials and taxpaying and voting parents and put it into the hands of bureaucrats. Once the Texas evolution lobby has total vertical control of the curriculum, they hope to then also control–through indoctrination–the minds of the next generation of voters. Perhaps then Texas evolutionists will feel safe returning power to the people.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.