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Texas scientists overwhelmingly reject antievolution arguments

Scientists at public and private universities in Texas overwhelmingly reject the arguments advanced by the antievolutionists seeking to undermine the treatment of evolution in Texas's state science standards, according to a report just released by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. "This survey leaves no doubt that the political crusade against evolution and other attempts to dumb down our public school science curriculum are deeply misguided," TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said in a press release. "Texas scientists are clearly worried that failing to provide a 21st-century science education in our public schools will harm our children's chances to succeed in college and the jobs of the future."

The report, entitled Evolution, Creationism, and Public Education: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century (PDF), details a survey conducted by the TFN Education Fund in conjunction with Raymond Eve, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, who is the coauthor with Francis B. Harrold of The Creationist Movement in Modern America (Twayne, 1990). The survey was sent to the 1019 biologists and biological anthropologists on the faculty of all 35 public and the 15 largest private colleges and universities in Texas. The response rate was high — 45% of those surveyed responded. "Their responses should send parents a clear message that those who want to play politics with science education are putting our kids at risk," Eve commented.

The TFN Education Fund's press release summarizes five key findings from the survey: "1. Texas scientists (97.7 percent) overwhelmingly reject 'intelligent design' as valid science. 2. Texas science faculty (95 percent) want only evolution taught in science classrooms. 3. Scientists reject teaching the so-called 'weaknesses' of evolution, with 94 percent saying that those arguments are not valid scientific objections to evolution. 4. Science faculty believe that emphasizing 'weaknesses' of evolution would substantially harm students' college readiness (79.6 percent) and ability to compete for 21st-century jobs (72 percent). 5. Scientists (91 percent) strongly believe that support for evolution is compatible with religious faith."

Evolution, Creationism, and Public Education was released just as the Texas state board of education is preparing to consider a new draft set of state science standards from November 19 to November 21, hearing testimony from the public on November 19. The Dallas Morning News (November 17, 2008) reported that "a majority of members have voiced support for retaining the current mandate to cover both strengths and weaknesses of major scientific theories, notably evolution, in science courses." But the TFN Education Fund's Kathy Miller told the newspaper that it would be a mistake for the board not to heed the clear consensus of Texas science professors: "This survey leaves no doubt that the political crusade against evolution and other attempts to dumb down our public school science curriculum are deeply misguided."