More at Stake in Texas Evolution Vote Than Just "Strengths and Weaknesses"
Later this week the Texas State Board of Education will vote to adopt standards overseeing the state's science education curriculum for the next ten years.
Monday, Stephanie Simon of the Wall Street Journal highlighted the importance of this week's vote and how there's more at stake than just the "strengths and weaknesses" language usually discussed.
Simon stereotypically boils things down to a point that isn't accurate:
The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry.No, actually teachers
wouldn't be raising "doubts," they would be presenting to students not just a one-sided, dogmatic lesson that only discusses evidence for evolution, but also the scientific evidence that challenges the theory. This might best be summed up by saying they would teach both the strengths and weaknesses. And it's a position that is supported by the vast majority of the public.
However, there is much more going on than just a debate over the phrase "strengths and weaknesses." There is a very big debate over whether or not students should simply be force-fed a set of debatable facts about modern evolutionary theory and not encouraged to learn how to critically analyze and think about them.
In January the Board added the words "analyze and evaluate" to each of the student expectations dealing with evolution in the high school biology standards. The revised student expectations included:
(A) analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies, including anatomical, molecular, and developmental;and
(E) analyze and evaluate the relationship of natural selection to adaptation and to the development of diversity in and among species;
Note that this is not about "denigrating Darwin," but simply thinking critically about the evidence for and against evolution. Now Darwinists are pushing to have this approved language removed, proposing that the above expectations instead read:
(A) identify how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies including anatomical, molecular, and developmental;and
(D) recognize the relationship of natural selection to adaptation, and to the development of diversity in and among species; andIdentify? Recognize? That's what you do when picking suspects out of a police lineup. All such standards do is require that students absorb and regurgitate a one-sided presentation as if it were uncontested. Where's the critical thinking in that?
Above and beyond the important issue of whether or not the standards should include the long-standing phrase "strengths and weaknesses" (we think they should), there are a number of other equally important issues that will be addressed by the Board this week.
What will the media write about? Sure, they will cover "strengths and weaknesses" because that has been the story thus far. But will they go the extra mile and really report on the other important sections of the standards up for debate? We can only hope.