The Texas State Board of Education met this past week to discuss the streamlining of its science standards, greeted by much news attention — unfortunately, much of it wrong.
Contrary to misleading media claims, the standards as currently streamlined have nothing to do with injecting either intelligent design or creationism into Texas classrooms. Instead, they focus on teaching the existing curriculum in a way that promotes good science and critical thinking.
As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorialized, “The State Board decided to keep language about the origin of life and fossil record, keeping the door open for school discussions of creationism and intelligent design.” Similarly, the Texas Tribune claimed, “The Texas State Board of Education on Wednesday voted preliminarily for science standards that would keep in language that some say opens the door to creationism.”
In reality, nowhere do the streamlined standards even mention either intelligent design or creationism. They do cover evolution, but their focus on that topic is on promoting full coverage of the relevant scientific data and arguments well attested in the existing peer-reviewed literature.
For example, Standard 7b currently reads: “Examine scientific explanations of abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil record.” As we have pointed out before, leading scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould have explored patterns of stasis and bursts of novelty in the fossil record. Other revised standards deal with cellular complexity and the origin of life — both major topics and the subject of ample mainstream scientific literature.
Additionally, SBOE members combined and shortened these evolution standards to provide more time to teachers.
It is a measure of the dogmatism of many Darwinists that they are opposed to the modest policy of teaching all of the facts about modern evolutionary theory.