Despite Perry claim, Texas schools don’t teach creationism alongside evolution

Posted on: August 18th, 2011 by Patrick Michels 1 Comment

Rick Perry (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/eschipul)A New Hampshire campaign trail claim by Gov. Rick Perry during an exchange with a local boy and his mother that Texas schools teach both evolution and creationism, and then allow students to decide which is correct, is a false statement.

After saying that evolution is a “theory” that has “some gaps in it,” Perry tells the boy that “in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”

The only problem with that, of course, is that it’s not true.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that teaching creationism in public schools would be unconstitutional. Following a 2009 decision by the State Board of Education, Texas science teachers must encourage students to take a critical look at “all sides” of scientific theories like evolution.

As our sister site, The Texas Independent has reported, that state-mandated ambivalence about a theory as widely accepted as evolution has drawn challenges over the years. Just last month, the SBOE opted not to approve supplemental science materials featuring intelligent design.

The watchdog group Texas Freedom Network has worked for years to oppose efforts to teach religious alternatives to evolution in public schools. Its president, Kathy Miller said in a statement that Perry’s remarks were “irresponsible” and could have dangerous consequences:

Gov. Perry has once again waded into the culture wars for political gain, but without considering the harmful consequences. It is irresponsible for the leader of a state, or a presidential hopeful, to suggest to public school teachers that it is OK to teach creationism as science when such attempts have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and could result in litigation against a school district.

It was the second day in a row Perry’s been pressed on his beliefs about science — Wednesday he denied not only that humans have caused global climate change, but that the climate was changing at all.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman took in some more moderate GOP traffic when he tweeted his belief in both evolution and global warming Thursday.

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