Dispatches from the Creation Wars

At least for now, the battle over the science textbooks in Texas has been won by the good guys. The Texas Freedom Network reports that there was one bit of unfinished business that had to be cleared up:

As we told you late last month, the State Board of Education approved instructional materials in science that could be used in Texas public schools for the better part of the next decade. In all, the board approved materials from nine publishers. But in the case of one of those publishers, Holt McDougal, it did so on the condition that it make changes of so-called “errors” that were based on the objections of a well-known creationist who reviewed the materials.

Holt, of course, tried to hold the line in support of sound science and argued against tainting its product with creationist arguments attacking evolutionary science, and so did TFN, the National Center for Science Education and other mainstream scientists. As a compromise, the board agreed to let Holt work with Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott on any needed changes.

And here’s the result:

Well, those changes are now in (click here to download a PDF) and so are the reviews. TFN, NCSE and other scientists have reviewed the changes and have found them to be in line with established, fact-based science.

Here’s the head-exploding part for the creationists. Not only does the final version of Holt not include creationist arguments against evolution, but they also include language explicitly affirming Darwin’s theories.

With Holt’s materials finalized, we can now say with certainty that all of the materials approved from the nine publishers are in line with fact-based science and free of creationist attacks seeking to undermine science.

This is very good news. Of course, it’s also temporary. The creationists will never, ever give up. They’ll be back the next time the curriculum and the textbooks are up for revision and they’ll have some new way of phrasing creationism, which they’ll claim is totally different and not at all creationism even though the substance is all the same.

And there’s still the problem of individual teachers using supplemental creationist materials, the way John Freshwater did. This is quite routine. That’s why I think everyone with kids in school should put in a Freedom of Information Act request with their local schools to get all the supplemental materials used in biology classrooms. I bet we’d find out about a whole lot of places where it’s being taught and continues because no one has ever complained about it.