Texas State School Board Debates Teaching Evolution


The debate over teaching evolution in public schools is heating up again in Texas as the state school board opens public hearings today on what online science materials to recommend to teachers, the Austin American-Statesman reports.@

Because of a state budget crunch, the state is opting for online materials over expensive new textbooks.@

One sticky issue is whether online materials for science classes should include the teaching of "creationism" or "intelligent design" as the possible source of life on Earth.@

Education Commissioner Robert Scott has recommended nine high school biology options, but none include intelligent design or creationism, The Dallas Morning News reports.

"None of the mainstream publishers were going to go that far," says Josh Rosenau policy director at the National Center for Science Education, the American-Statesman reports.


The 15-member school board now includes six members of a conservative bloc instead of seven, following the defeat of one of the most outspoken advocates of intelligent design.

After holding public hearings, the board will vote on Friday on what materials to recommend.

Barbara Cargill, the new board chairperson appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, recently told a group of conservative activists that she and her allies on the board would try to "rectify and correct" how evolution and natural selection is handled by some publishers, the American-Statesman reports.

She wants to modify one submission that shows human and gorilla embryos side by side and indicates that the similarities reflect common descent, the newspaper says.

Although the board will recommendations, a new law gives local schools greater latitude to buy what they want for required lessons if they don't like what the state board has approved.

"It has the great potential to diminish the influence of the State Board of Education," says Dan Quinn, spokesman for Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group that monitors the religious right, the American-Statesman reports.