Thursday, December 25, 2008


Ridin' the Range

The National Center for Science Education is reporting that the third draft of Texas's proposed new science standards has removed the latest version of the "strengths and weaknesses" language that is an obvious ploy for injecting creationism into public schools.

The first draft of the revised standards replaced the "strengths and weaknesses" language with "The student is expected to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing." ...

[W]hen the Texas board of education began to hear testimony about the new standards on November 19, 2008, it was presented not with the first draft but with a second draft, in which the "strengths and weaknesses" language was replaced with a variant: "The student is expected to analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations of scientific explanations including those based on accepted scientific data, and evidence from students' observations, experiments, models, and logical statements." At the meeting, defenders of the integrity of science education argued that "strengths and limitations" was no improvement over "strengths and weaknesses." ...

[T]he third draft is similar but not identical to the first draft. According to the first draft, "Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods." The third draft reads, "Science, as defined by the National Academy of Sciences, is the 'use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.' ... Students should know that some questions are outside the realm of science because they deal with phenomena that are not scientifically testable."
This third draft will be considered by the SBOE at its meeting on January 21-23, 2009, with a public hearing scheduled for January 21, 2009 followed, presumably, by a period for further public comment and a final vote to occur at the board's March 26-27, 2009 meetings. It has to be remembered that the conservative wing of the SBOE is not above throwing out the work of professional educators and substituting their own, ideologically-driven, substitute standards at the last minute, which was what they did with the English standards recently. Indeed, it was suggested that the board's treatment of the otherwise not-very-controversial English standards was just a dry run for how it will go about mangling the science standards.

Texans, make sure your powder's dry next March.

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