Friday, July 18, 2008

Science education in Texas and hearing bloggers speak on creationism

I think "the good, the bad and the ugly" would also sum up the evening. The "good" was the round of applause for Chris Comer and her upcoming lawsuit and hearing some ScienceBloggers speak, "the bad" was hearing more about the big fight that will be coming over the revision of the science standards here in Texas, and "the ugly" is how the upcoming fight is probably going to be.

The two folks from ScienceBlogs were Ed Brayton from Dispatches from the Culture Wars and Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas. The third speaker was Steve Schafersman of Texas Citizens for Science. Josh wrote up a post about the evening, with photos.

Just a few notes and thoughts from the evening:

The travesty of a law supporting "academic freedom" signed by Gov. Jindal in Louisiana is probably going to show up in Texas in January when our legislature meets again. The only way I can see this being derailed would be if a lawsuit has been filed and lost in La. before ours debuts, but I don't think there would be enough time for that.

Another thing we'll have to watch for is another round of fighting over the mention of evolution in our state science education standards. This is the current version that caused some discussion last time:

(3) Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information;

So, we have the "strengths and weaknesses", but at least there is the "using scientific evidence and information" as a caveat.

The section that specifically mentions evolution is this:

(7) Science concepts. The student knows the theory of biological evolution. The student is expected to:

(A) identify evidence of change in species using fossils, DNA sequences, anatomical similarities, physiological similarities, and embryology; and

(B) illustrate the results of natural selection in speciation, diversity, phylogeny, adaptation, behavior, and extinction.

So, it will be interesting to see how this "evolves" in the "creation" of the new standards. (Sorry, sometimes just can't help myself!)

The other thing that will be interesting to watch in the near future is Chris Comer's suit against the Texas Board of Education for having to resign for not remaining "neutral" on the topic of evolution, which you can read about at the Wikipedia link up above.

These are all things that I'll be trying to follow and blog about over the upcoming months.

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