In my earlier post about the Texas Science standards, I noted the hand wringing over the new language by Eugenie Scott, at the NCSE. Well, the moaning continues. An article has appeared in Education Week entitled Retooled Texas Standards Raise Unease Among Science Groups
Steven Newton of the NCSE frets over the wording of this statement in the new standards:
“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of the scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”
This is too much for Mr. Newton.
But Steven Newton, a public information project director at of the National Center for Science Education, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization that supports teaching evolution in public school science classes, said the document’s call for students to examine “all sides of scientific evidence” is problematic.
Supporters of “intelligent design,” he noted, have claimed that scientific evidence supports their view—an assertion rejected by the vast majority of scientists.
We sure wouldn’t want students to examine all sides of scientific evidence now would we, Mr. Newton!? Why, some of them might have the audacity to question some of the evidence for evolution. But why is that a problem? As I pointed out in the prior post, that is exactly what real scientists do all day long.
Mr. Newton isn’t alone in his fretting. Francis Q. Eberle, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, also has some issues with some of the wording.
Another amendment approved by the board requires students to “analyze and evaluate a variety of fossil types, such as transitional fossils, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and alignment with scientific explanations in light of this fossil data.”
Francis Q. Eberle, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, a professional organization based in Arlington, Va., said that language, particularly the wording about “proposed” fossils, is unscientific and misleading.
It is “an attempt to interject subjectivity and belief systems into a major unifying theme of science by isolating the concept out of context of the other evidence,” Mr. Eberle said in an e-mail. “Hence, this is no longer science, but something else.”
Something else? And what would that be, Mr. Eberle? Perhaps the real worry is that some students might come away from all this analyzing, evaluating and critiquing with some serious doubts about the claims of evolutionary theory. In turn, that might lead to seriously consider (gasp!), Design! (eek!!!)