In what public interest and science organizations are declaring a “victory” for Texas education, the Board of Education voted Friday to accept new online supplemental materials for science classrooms, unanimously rejecting Intelligent Design/Creationist backed information from digital vendor International Databases, in a 8-0 vote.
The SBOE cast a similar preliminary vote at the Thursday meeting after hearing roughly four hours of testimony from pro-evolution and pro-creationist citizens, as the Texas Independent reported. The move is being seen as a hopeful sign the politicized voting process that long marred the board’s reputation is slowly waning as a result of new board membership.
Echoing a dispute at yesterday’s meeting, which featured four hours of testimony, board members continued to debate about errors found in the material, pointed out by a review panel for Holt McDougal publishers. Moderate Republican and Democratic and board members, including Michael Soto, questioned the validity of those errors on Thursday, especially as a creationist sits on the review panel. In the end, the SBOE left the decision up to TEA Commissioner Robert Scott, who will review the alleged mistakes.
“Pop the champagne corks,” began a celebratory statement from National Center for Science Education in response to the vote. “This is a huge victory for Texas students and teachers,” said Josh Rosenau, NCSE programs and policy director, who delivered testimony on Thursday.
Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE’s Executive Director also added, “These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education.”
The watchdog group Texas Freedom Network, which closely monitors the SBOE, characterized the vote as a signal the far-right grasp over the 15-body is loosening.
“Today we saw Texas kids and sound science finally win a vote on the State Board of Education. Now our public schools can focus on teaching their students fact-based science that will prepare them for college and a 21st-century economy,” said TFN President Kathy Miller in a release. “And our schoolchildren won’t be held hostage to bad decisions made by a politicized board that adopted flawed science curriculum standards two years ago.”