Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Evolution in Texas

Over the weekend, while in Chicago, I read an article in the newspaper about Texas' decision on Friday to alter the way evolution is taught in schools for the next decade. 
Previously, educators were compelled to teach the strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theory.  Now, students in Texas will be scrutinizing "all sides" of scientific theories.
It's interesting to contemplate what this will actually mean because it won't affect curriculum only in Texas.  Schools in Texas will have to order new textbooks to reflect the new standards.  Because Texas purchases so many textbooks, they have a big influence on what is published.
So, when a state like Texas makes a change like this, it's important for the rest of the country to pay attention.
Initially, the decision to change the curriculum seems sound.  Science teachers will no longer be required to point out weaknesses in evolutionary theory, as they have been for 20 years.  In pointing out weaknesses, the door for introducing creationism was left open.
Still, some who have been watching the debate are wary that in "scrutinizing all sides" of scientific theory, the door to creationism in schools has not been closed. 
As it unfolds and the new standards are interpreted and argued among all interested parties, it will be interesting to see if the textbooks change significantly.
I also stumbled upon this page which, while from a religious source, does a good job of summarizing recent religion/science debate state-by-state (14 key states).

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