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Teach Them Science

As the Texas state board of education prepares to vote on a revised set of state science standards, two organizations — one secular, one religious — have joined forces to produce a new website, Teach Them Science, in order to advocate for a twenty-first-century science education for the students in Texas's public schools. Sponsored by the Center for Inquiry Austin and the Clergy Letter Project, the Teach Them Science website is intended to empower parents, educators, and concerned citizens to rally in support of the new standards, which treat evolution as the central and unifying principle of the biological sciences that it is. As NCSE previously reported, however, the current draft of the standards will be considered by the state board of education at its January 21-23, 2009, meeting, and it is likely that the creationist faction on the board will seek to restore language about "strengths and weaknesses" that was misused, in 2003, to try to undermine the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks submitted for adoption in Texas.

In a January 15, 2009, press release, Clare Wuellner, the executive director of CFI Austin, explained, "We knew people would care if they just knew what was happening. But too many people didn't know about this incredibly important issue. We decided to do something about it." As the press release observes, the Teach Them Science website "explains how curriculum is developed in Texas, provides a basic but accurate understanding of science, explains in simple terms why teaching evolution is essential to an effective science curriculum, explains the flaws in the SBOE's politically-motivated changes to the science curriculum, explains how teaching the alleged 'strengths and weaknesses' would actually teach students to think unscientifically, motivates parents, teachers and concerned citizens to become involved in the determination of what our children are taught, [and] gives the public tools to take action."

The Teach The Science website also emphasizes the fact that plenty of people of faith accept evolution, contrary to the misconception that evolution is intrinsically at odds with religious belief. "More than 12,000 clergy members can't be wrong," Michael Zimmerman, founder of the Clergy Letter Project, quipped in the same press release, adding, "Kids deserve to learn about the best scientists have to offer, and religion has nothing to fear." In supporting a scientifically appropriate and pedagogically responsible treatment of evolution in Texas's public schools, Teach Them Science joins Texas Citizens for Science, the Texas Freedom Network, the 21st Century Science Coalition, the Texas Academy of Science, the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, the Texas Science Education Leadership Association (PDF), and the Science Teachers Association of Texas (PDF).