10-17-2008, 01:49 AM
love, blood, life
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The Wild West
Local Time: 10:23 PM
Proud Ignorance in Texas
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Regional News
Social conservatives on the State Board of Education have appointed three evolution critics to a six-member committee that will review proposed curriculum standards for science courses in Texas schools.
Two of the appointees are authors of a book that questions many of the tenets of Charles Darwin's theory of how humans and other life forms evolved. One of them, Stephen Meyer, is also vice president of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based group that promotes an explanation of the origin of life similar to creationism. The other author is Ralph Seelke, a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Also on the panel is Baylor University chemistry professor Charles Garner, who, like the other two, signed the Discovery Institute's "Dissent from Darwinism" statement that sharply questions key aspects of the theory of evolution.
Three other committee members are veteran science professors from major Texas universities – the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University and Southern Methodist University.
The committee was chosen by 12 of the 15 members of the board of education, with each panel member receiving the support of two board members. For example, Republican board members Geraldine Miller of Dallas and Pat Hardy of Weatherford selected SMU anthropology professor Ronald K. Wetherington, who is also director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the university.
Six other members of the board aligned with social conservative groups chose the three committee members who have signed the "Dissent from Darwinism" document along with several hundred educators from across the U.S.
It states: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, who frequently spars with social conservative groups, called it "simply stunning that any state board members would even consider appointing authors of an anti-evolution textbook to a panel of scientists." The textbook is titled Explore Evolution.
"Texas universities boast some of the leading scientists in the world," said Ms. Miller, of the progressive, nonprofit group. "It's appalling that some state board members turned to out-of-state ideologues to decide whether Texas kids get a 21st-century science education."
Jonathan Saenz of the conservative Free Market Foundation said the panel is "balanced" because two of the other three members, UT-Austin biology Professor David Hillis and Texas Tech Professor Gerald Skoog, have joined a group of science educators wanting to eliminate a current requirement that weaknesses of the theory of evolution be taught.
"If the theory of evolution is so strong and without weaknesses, why are the evolutionists so afraid to let students have a discussion about it?" he asked.
"Close-minded efforts to ban students from [hearing both sides] is dangerous and a clear detriment to students."