The Texas State Board of Education gave final approval to supplemental high school science materials on Friday, delivering a blow to the board's social conservatives after a brief flare-up over some lessons teaching the principles of evolution.
The lessons in question included a lab comparison on chimpanzee and human skulls, the fossil record and cell complexity.
A board-appointed reviewer had called the lessons errors and recommended changes, but a group of scientists objected on Friday, threatening to re-ignite a fierce debate over teaching evolution in Texas public schools.The board's social conservatives compromised when it appeared they would lose a vote to reject the reviewer's changes in favor of the original lessons.
Instead of a showdown vote on evolution, the panel agreed to approve the material and have Education Commissioner Robert Scott continue working on the lessons in question with publisher Holt McDougal.
"Today we saw Texas kids and sound science finally win a vote on the State Board of Education," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that supports mainstream scientists in the teaching of evolution and has repeatedly sparred with board conservatives over education standards.
"We saw the far right's stranglehold over the state board is finally loosening," Miller said.
The conservative wing in 2009 had pushed through controversial standards that called for schools to scrutinize "all sides" of scientific theory.
Several of the conservative board members disputed the notion of defeat on Friday.
Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, said she was pleased with the compromise because Scott will continue working with Holt McDougal to find language that is factually correct and fits the standards adopted in 2009.Read more...