I'm here in Austin, watching people speak out about the science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Board questions are in red. Bored comments will be interspersed. As always, as a blogger I don't speak for NCSE, and have been known to work blue.
8:33: First up, Sharon Sparlin, a science playwright, who tells the Board that the folks who wrote the TEKS did a good job, and that they should listen to the good advice they were given. "They made me want to be a student again."
8:34: Kevin Fisher, a member of the science standards writing committee and veteran educator, makes it clear that these new standards are much improved. Greater specificity. Better defines "theory," and is well-alligned with national standards.
Question (Berlanga): Is "strengths and weaknesses" still there? No.
Pat Hardy: Why did you change it? "Takes students to a higher level."
Cargill: Have teachers complained about "strengths and weaknesses"? No, no one has been forced to teach ID.
Patty Quinzi, of Texas AFT: "Significant improvement." Current standards fall short, but this is better. Pleased that S&W is removed. New language meets AFT standards for being explicit and firmly rooted. Pass the standards.
Chairman Don McLeroy, a creationist dentist, has a Darwin playset on his desk.
Mercer: Are students unqualified to learn weaknesses? Problem is that it's too vague.
Mercer: Academic freedom? Only for higher ed.
Mercer: I think it's for everyone. McLeroy cuts it off.
Bradley: Did you object to S&W in 1996? I don't recall, but it sucks now.
?: Are you paid to be here? Yeah.
Dunbar: Current standards are approved by AFT? Yeah.
8:46: Sandra West of TEKS committee for grades 6-8: Good TEKS, don't mess with it.
Agosto: Tell me more.
I'm sitting with NCSE's Steve Newton and Eugenie Scott, and with Texas Citizen for Science head Steve Schafersman. Casey Luskin and Anika Smith are here, but not sitting with us.
Much conversation about 6-8 standards, which I don't feel strongly about.
Chris Mittal, HS senior: I'm a science nerd, presented at SICB. Seminar on how to shake students faith in anything other than evolution; how there were no weaknesses in evolution. "Questioning is science." "Weaknesses should be there." The Great Gazoogle sez that he attends Mittal Christian Academy.
Cargill presses the matter. Is teaching weaknesses going to be detrimental to you? No, would be good.
Teach the weaknesses of gravity!
Knight: Shook your faith in what? Didn't shake my faith, just disappointed me. Knight: Fact vs. theory.
Mercer: Microevolution? Yeah. Evidences of microevolution? Yes. They assumed macroevolution.
Rick Agosto just wandered out.
Christopher Marshall teaches Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography at Frisco IMD: On Earth and Space Science committee. New standards are what I've been striving for. Will set the standard for such instruction. Yes, these are long, but we won't cut content to keep this short. I've tested out these standards, and it's no problem creating a curriculum from these standards.
YECs are trying to undermine these ESS standards.
McLeroy: How much meteorology? More climatology. Global warming? Yes.
McLeroy wants to pick a fight, but backs off.
Lowe: Other diffs? Old standards just scaled up an 8th grade course, this really creates modern stds.
Lowe: Is this the only one with such a systems approach? Couldn't say for sure.
So... same old nonsense.
Academic Freedom must be exercised within limits of Professional Responsibility.
Macroevolution is merely Microevolutionary mutations where diffusion to another population is precluded by a speciation barrier.
What is being referred to as an "assumption" is in fact an inference, which inference ultimately rests on the evidence and on the actual assumptions of the philosophy of science: the validity of Propositional Logic for Inference, the self-consistency of the joint affirmation of ZF, and the assumption that Reality is Relateable to Evidence (that is, congruent via a pattern with formal complexity at most Recusively Enumerable).
The last assumption is sufficient to solve Hume's problem of induction, and allows formal construction (doi:10.1109/18.825807) of the testing that is at the heart of science. (While superficial appearance suggests necessity as well, I'm not sure that's provable.)
Audio files for all but the first hour are posted now at
I will add the first hour later, and files for the remaining session this afternoon.