Pop the champagne corks. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In a 14-0* vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.
"This is a huge victory for Texas students and teachers," said Josh Rosenau, NCSE programs and policy director, who testified at the hearings this week. In his testimony, Rosenau urged the board to approve the supplements — recommended by a review panel largely composed of scientists and science educators — without amendments, and to reject International Databases' creationist submission. The board did just that, and asked for only minimal changes to the approved supplements.
In hearings yesterday, NCSE members and allies showed up in force. At least four times as many people testified in favor of the supplements as written, versus those opposing the supplements or demanding significant changes.
One hot button: the supplement from Holt McDougal. A creationist member of the review panel released a list of Holt's supposed errors involving evolution and common descent. But in today's hearing, the Texas Education Agency pointed out that the full membership of the review panel had not signed off on the list.
Ultimately, the board approved the Holt supplement, and directed Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to review the list of supposed errors, and to develop amended language for Holt to incorporate. NCSE and Texas education groups are confident Scott's revisions will reflect the current state of evolutionary biology, and not any creationist alternatives.
Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE's Executive Director, is celebrating the decision. "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."
* Correction: This story initially reported the vote as 8-0. The board has 15 members, with one (Mary Helen Berlanga) away on vacation.