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"Don't mess with textbooks"

Joshua RosenauJoshua Rosenau

Writing in Seed, NCSE's Joshua Rosenau explains what the new Texas state science standards mean for science education nationwide. Rosenau, who attended (and blogged from) both the January and the March meetings of the Texas state board of education, writes, "Despite our efforts, after a total of 24 hours of testimony in three separate hearings, pro-evolution moderates brokered a compromise with the board's seven creationists. Heeding McLeroy's cry that 'someone's got to stand up to experts!,' the board approved standards that promote creationism's mantra of 'sudden appearance' of new species, echo creationist beliefs that the complexity of the cell cannot be scientifically explained, and mandate that students study 'different views on the existence of global warming.'"

In the wake of the adoption of the flawed standards in Texas, Rosenau explains, "Textbook publishers are already preparing for hearings in 2011, which will judge whether rewritten textbooks fit the new standards. Textbook author and biologist [and NCSE Supporter] Ken Miller and publisher Rene LeBel both say they'll abide by the letter, but not the spirit, of the standards; for instance, by fulfilling the requirement to cover 'all sides of scientific evidence' without including creationist pseudoscience. Miller, a vocal defender of evolution education, insists that 'biology textbook authors will all stand together on evolution,' refusing to include creationist attacks or to drop good science."

But it isn't only the authors and publishers of textbooks that are preparing to defend the integrity of science education, and it isn't only in Texas -- as Rosenau relates, "The NCSE recently worked with a family and local professors to give a student in Washington the courage to denounce his teacher's creationist lectures. He won not only the school's support but also a college scholarship from the ACLU." The lesson to be learned from the experience of those fighting for the integrity of science education, whether in Texas, Washington, or wherever it is under assault, Rosenau concludes: "It doesn't take an expert to stand up for science. Whether the battle is large or small, success depends on these types of broad coalitions."