July 21, 2011
A Southern Methodist University professor expressed embarrassment earlier this morning when he laid out some basic scientific parameters before a State Board of Education public hearing on supplemental science materials for public school classrooms.
“Science does not divide itself into conservative and liberal sides. Scientific theories do not fall into Christian v. non-Christian camps,” SMU archaeologist Ron Wetherington said during a press briefing before the hearing.
“It’s sort of embarrassing that I feel compelled to state these truisms,” said Wetherington, who also is director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at SMU. “Not in many places other than Texas would such a reminder be necessary.”
About 60 Texans are signed up to speak to the 15-member board later today. The board is scheduled to vote Friday on science supplemental material. Critics fear that social conservative board members will try to load up the materials with anti-evolution ideas.
One publisher wants to promote “intelligent design” theories, which is another way to push creationism to explain the origin of life. Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott did not include that publisher’s work on a list of materials that meet the state’s science curriculum standards. But the board does not have to embrace the commissioner’s list.
Wetherington was among experts who reviewed the proposed science materials before Scott narrowed the list to nine publishers.
“We’re comfortable and confident that those nine represent the best that we can expect,” Wetherington said. “Certainly, they represent good, sound science. Our message, then, to the board when they vote on these tomorrow is not to mess with Texas.”
Any board changes should be vetted with the scientific experts, Wetherington said: “Don’t simply ignore what was good science. Texas science teachers deserve reliable knowledge based upon sound scientific evaluation and not upon junk science.”
A conservative group, however, supports materials that allow teaches and students to question evolution.
Read the full blog.
# # #