A friend of Uncommon Descent writes to tell us about this just-released report, “The State of State Science Standards 2012” (January 31, 2012), authored by State reviews by Lawrence S. Lerner, Ursula Goodenough, John Lynch, Martha Schwartz, and Richard Schwartz” (NAEP review by Paul R. Gross). Given the panel, one wouldn’t have expected Texas to come up with an overall 6/10 (and for evolution, 5/7). Here’s what they say about evolution coverage in high school:
In spite of the Texas Board of Education’s erratic approach to evolution, the state’s current high school biology standards handle the subject straightforwardly. There are no concessions to “controversies” or “alternative theories.”
In fact, the high school biology course is exemplary in its choice and presentation of topics, including its thorough consideration of biological evolution. Even so, the term “natural selection” appears just three times, as does the word “evolution” and its variants. It is hard to see how Texas students will be able to handle this course, given the insufficient foundations offered prior to high school. In contrast to the confusion of the taxonomic material in sixth grade, the high school standards present a straightforward, if somewhat old-fashioned, version of how taxonomies are constructed.
The only major lapses at the high school level are the rather cursory mentioning of photosynthesis, but not respiration,and the inadequate coverage of genes. Taken together, the combination of strengths and weaknesses earns the Lone Star State a solid score of five out of seven for content and rigor.
(They don’t like the earlier grades as much, as readers can tell.)
The interesting part is that, as our friend notes, is that there was no hostility to the (presumably “exemplary”) standards that some would see as “intelligent design talking points”:
The controversial standards read: *“analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.” *And*, “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of cell.”
The friend also asks,
What’s become of the Darwin lobby’s claims at the time re the Texas standards: National Center for Science Education stated at the time they were adopted that
“…the board voted to add or amend various standards in a way that encourages the presentation of creationist claims about the complexity of the cell, the completeness of the fossil record…
Aw, it wouldn’t be a contradiction, chum. Critical thinking about Darwinism spurs doubt, and if students have been taught that the only alternative to Darwinism is creationism, creationism follows naturally. Not our fault.
Paging Jim Shapiro … are you there?! Oh, for heaven’s sakes, quit stalling …. this is bigger than you or us …