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Mixed Outcome of Texas Textbook Vote 646

The Texas Board of Education — as discussed here last week — has voted on the guidelines for textbooks in that state, which represents a large enough market to have influence nationwide. The good news is that the board dropped a 20-year-old requirement that both "strengths and weaknesses" of all scientific theories be taught; score one for the teaching of evolution. The not-so-good news is that in a "compromise," the board also voted to require that students "in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations ... including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student." Score one for the Discovery Institute. A Republican board member explained that the words "strengths and weaknesses" have become "code for creationism and [the similar theory of] intelligent design. So by being more clear in the language and using words that aren't seen as code words, we were able to get all of the 15 board members to agree that this is how we'll teach all sides of scientific explanation, using scientific evidence." Reporting on the Texas vote is all over the map, as a US Today blog summarizes. Some reports claim that an amendment was passed that preserves a requirement that students study the "sufficiency or insufficiency" of common ancestry and natural selection. Other reports claim that the board also adopted language that would have students study the "different views on the existence of global warming."

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