Why 60% of Texans Aren't Sure if Dinosaurs and Humans Did Not Live Together

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Texas’ Science Standards Will Remain Subpar

New science standards for the nation are apparently not needed here in Texas. According to Barbara Cargill, the Republican chairwoman of Texas’ State Board of Education, there is a “zero percent chance” that Texas will adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, which outline a science curriculum from kindergarten through the end of high school. As everyone in the state of Texas knows, “we’ve been averse to adopting anything else coming from a national origin”, as Thomas Ratliff, another member of the Texas State Board of Education stated. The new federal curriculum includes controversial topics (in Texas, at least) such as “climate change and evolution.”  

In 2009, the last year that new science standards were created, Texas managed to include language on how the age of the universe was up for debate, how fossils “suddenly” appeared in the fossil record (bolstering intelligent design apparently), and how climate change can be explained by many different explanations (so that explanations other than human activities can be introduced.)

Adoption of the Next Generation standards is not mandatory, and the new curriculum will serve as a “reference guide” for Texas. But Cargill noted that “We write our own standards here in Texas.” These standards have impact far beyond Texas borders; once a textbook is approved in Texas, textbook companies can sell a lot of textbooks, which will reduce the price of those textbooks. These textbooks in high demand will be a good deal to other states. Thus, while science textbook writers will modify their books slightly for each state, they are unwilling to change the main narrative for every state. Many states buy books that might be slightly tailored for their own state standards, but the main narrative is watered down dramatically so that it will fit Texas and many other states’ standards

The Texas State Board of Education’s position on these new standards comes as no surprise. The Texas GOP platform this year decried critical thinking for “behavioral modification” and “undermining parental authority”, and former member of the State Board of Education Don McLeroy once proclaimed that “Someone has to stand up to experts” in regards to evolution. We can now all rest assured that Texas’ science standards will once again be nothing less than subpar. 

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