Texas passes first reading of new science standards

The new science standards survived without reinserting "strengths and weaknesses." That phrase has been abused by creationists in the past, and its removal is a giant victory.

Disco. is trying to hustle a win out of some random changes to the evolution section of the Biology TEKS, but, as they say down here, that dog won't hunt. All they did was confuse the standards and take out specificity needed by teachers and textbook authors. Furthermore, how do they propose that anyone analyze and evaluate how natural selection doesn't apply to individuals but to populations? That's simply true, and doesn't require any analysis or evaluation.

In pushing that amendment, Disco. showed that their only goal was to lay down a line of PR. But the language of these TEKS is not to advance a political line, it's to help educate students. And in confusing the standards, Disco. showed that the agenda of the Discovery Institute is not education, but PR. They should be ashamed.

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Don't the new standards question common descent, the existence of transitional fossils, and (indirectly) the age of the Earth? I thought these last-minute amendments (bold) passed:

(4) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal differing theories about the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits and assess the arguments for and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence;

I'm trying to assess the impact of these changes relative to the far more stealthy S&W language. Age of the Earth isn't a DI talking point as far I know (Stephen Meyer even affirmed that the age of the Earth was 4.6 billion years, as you reported). Even though lots of the Dissent from Darwin signers are OK with common descent, the DI is crowing over challenges to it, demonstrating why "intelligent design creationism" is an apt term. What materials do they plan to introduce, exactly? Stuff from AiG and the ICR? Do you think the SBOE has inadvertently made it tougher to introduce outside antievolution materials ?

I don't know about the prospects for Cargill's ESS amendments, but it seems to me that McLeroy's amendment on common descent is so silly that the Board won't have any problem getting rid of that in March. They were just taken by surprise this time and forced to vote before they had a chance to figure what it means. See
http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/texas-evolution-common-desc… and the previous post linked from there.

I should think that a HS student would get full credit for stating that Common Descent is complete insufficient to explain sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of the fossil record, just (exactly) as it is insufficient to explain gravity or thermodynamics.

But those insufficiencies provide no grounds for doubting common descent.

I generally don't enjoy watching small animals in torment; but I must admit it will be amusing to watch how Casey tries to spin this one.

"They were just taken by surprise this time and forced to vote before they had a chance to figure what it means."

So why would they vote with McLeroy and against the experts on matters of science content?

All they did was confuse the standards and take out specificity needed by teachers and textbook authors.

I cant see how that is any different than what they were trying to do with the "strengths and weaknesses" language. There is a lot of room for the creationists to demand that textbook publishers include egregious nonsense in phrases such as "assess the arguments for and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence" and "describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record." And there is a lot of room for the more rational members of the board to get lost in what is and is not science.

I'm sure there is an element of face-saving in the reaction of the Disco Boyz, especially after they've spent so much time promoting the "strengths and weakness" ploy, but I'm not at all sure these amendments are small potatos.

This whole thing is middle ages to me. I admire you for having the guts to help with this instead of letting the whole Kansas die in ignorance. They do not deserve you.

In my opinion the largest threat for California are cataclysms and ecological catastrophes. Not important is how many money we have because one tragedy can us take all.