Texas Board of Education Debates Evolution in Textbooks

| by

A Texas Board of Education meeting went late into the night Thursday as members debated the approval of new science textbooks. The board will not accept a new biology textbook until supposed “errors” in evolutionary theory are analyzed by a panel of experts.

The board waited until midnight to vote on the textbook, and then put off approval pending the expert review.

The biology books, which could be used throughout the state for nearly a decade, are causing controversy among creationists who have trouble accepting evolution as fact. When going over options from various publishers earlier this year, one board member wanted biblical creationism to be included. Other members were upset that books taught climate change, arguing that the scientific community has still not settled the matter — even though, according to NASA, 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real.

Less conservative members of the board expressed discontent that the Thursday meeting ran so late, complaining that their colleagues had dragged things out in an attempt to push their own religious agenda.

"To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican.

"I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes," he also said.

The refusal of creationists to accept modern science has been a major concern for people like Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

Scott works to help ensure that science, not ideology, makes it into United States science textbooks, and she sometimes fights an uphill battle.

Scott told the New York Times that up to 25 percent of biology teachers in the country believe in creationism.

“Working with local groups, we have stopped a lot of really bad resolutions and policies at the state level,” she said. “We need to do a lot more, but textbooks all have evolution now. They don’t qualify it with, ‘Some scientists believe. ...’ ”

Sources: NBC News, New York Times, NASA