Antievolution bills die in Texas

Two antievolution bills — House Bill 2800 and House Bill 4224 — died when the Texas legislature adjourned on June 1, 2009. HB 2800 would have exempted institutions such as the Institute for Creation Research's graduate school from Texas's regulations governing degree-granting institutions, thus freeing the ICR to offer a master's degree in science education despite the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board's 2008 decision to deny the ICR's request for a state certification of authority to offer the degree. The ICR is currently suing THECB in federal court over its decision. HB 4224 would have required the Texas state board of education to restore the controversial "strengths and weaknesses" language in the Texas state science standards. Although creationists on the board were unsuccessful in restoring the "strengths and weaknesses" language, they successfully introduced a requirement that students examine "all sides of scientific evidence." Partly due to his attempts to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards, the senate voted not to confirm Don McLeroy in his position as chair of the board; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May 31, 2009) editorially commented, "It is overly optimistic to say the Senate’s rejection of Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education will end the missteps and arguments that have plagued the board during the past two years. Still, we can hope."