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All Eyes on Texas

We're down in Austin, covering the Texas Board of Education hearings today, and this morning's public testimony is... well.. interesting. To say that there is interest in this issue is an understatement -- the room is packed with people standing along the walls and sitting with their laptops on the floor, waiting for their turn to get a word in on this controversy.

It's interesting to hear the testimonies from both sides in the public. We just had a mother speaking in favor of keeping "strengths and weaknesses" in the science standards who shared how her children's AP biology teacher would not allow any questioning of Darwin's theory -- the Board members called it "intimidation," and that doesn't seem far off:

"I'm here saying don't take [the TEKS] out, we have to have them in here," she said.

"I think our kids will completely be denied to have a voice and ask a question regarding the strengths and weaknesses of any theory, particularly evolution. I'm just standing up for our kids."

She was followed by UT-Austin professor Arturo de Lozanne, who rather sweetly told the Board that the strengths and weaknesses language would destroy the scientific supremacy of the great state of Texas.

He opened his testimony by reminding us all of President Obama's inaugural address, then told the Board that it's their "responsibility to adopt the proposed standards without attempting to revert to antiquated language from last century," highlighting the fact that the "strengths and weaknesses" language has been in the TEKS for more than a decade.

Despite this fact, he went on to tell the Board that if they keep this language, they'll endanger their children's futures and invite pseudoscience to "harm us all."

"Even though it sounds reasonable, it can be used to block the adoption of wonderful textbooks or to introduce pseudoscience... like that book from Discovery Institute." Then he raises the point that he's an admissions officer, and he sees students who question evolution "fall behind their peers in admissions" -- fear-mongering is a familiar tactic here.

Board member Terri Leo asked him if he believes "that the last 20 years we've been doing pseudoscience?"

Apparently, after twenty years this is an issue because "no books were available pretending to do science in disguise." He refers the Board to Explore Evolution and says, "Strengths and weaknesses is a toxic term."

Another Texan is testifying and quickly sharing 4 stories of teachers and principals who have been told not to talk about weaknesses of evolution, some of them losing their jobs.

Remind me again why the TEKS aren't necessary to protect students and teachers?