Split Results in Texas on Evolution

March 27, 2009

Opponents of teaching evolution failed Thursday to require Texas schools to teach the "weaknesses" of evolutionary theory, but they succeeded in votes requiring specific parts of evolutionary theory to be questioned in classrooms, The Dallas Morning News reported. The board is holding a series of votes this week on science requirements, and the evolution votes are considered crucial by scientists nationally because of the Texas-sized impact the state's education board has on the way textbooks are written. The board split evenly, 7 to 7, and thus failed to require schools to teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of all scientific theories -- a requirement widely viewed as a tool for forcing schools to imply that evolution isn't the scientific fact that it is. But while defenders of evolution won the big vote, they then lost several votes on subparts of evolutionary theory. The board agreed to require that students be taught about the "sufficiency or insufficiency" of common ancestry and natural selection. With more votes today, science groups hope to reverse some of those decisions. The blog of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that fights social conservatives in Texas, characterized Thursday's actions this way: "This morning the board slammed the door on bringing creationism into classrooms through phony 'weaknesses' arguments. But then board members turned around and threw open all the windows to pseudoscientific nonsense attacking core concepts like common descent and natural selection."

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