Texas Still Not On Board With Evolution

Texas is really going for it: on top of reinstating restrictive abortion laws and rejecting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, the Lone Star State is now delaying the release of a science textbook by Pearson Education. Why? Well, because some volunteer reviewers for the Board of Education claim that the textbook's claims about evolution and climate change — basically, that they exist — are problematic. The same volunteers also believe (surprise, surprise) that biblical creationism should be included. Equally unsurprisingly, turns out that many of these "volunteer" reviewers are nominated by board members, some of whom are creationists themselves.

After a meeting Thursday night that lasted into the wee morning hours, the board finally voted to have three members select three outside experts to review the contested points of the textbook. And so the evolution vs. creationism saga continues in Texas — a fight that has dragged on for at least six years now.

The whole thing started with a science teacher named Christine Castillo Comer. By 2007, she had already taught science for 27 years and acted as director of science of the Texas Education Agency for nine. That year, she was forced to resign — because she forwarded an email about a talk given by an Barbara Forrest, an anti-intelligent design Southeastern Louisiana University professor. By forwarding the email, Comer was apparently "endorsing" the speaker and therefore evolution itself, an issue on which TEA members had to remain "neutral."

No, we don't buy it either.

Thankfully, a legion of Texan biology professors had Corner's back. One month after Corner's forced resignation, 100 biology professors from Texan universities signed a letter that denounced the TEA's policy, strong suggesting that its members shouldn't have to remain neutral on the issue of evolution. (You know things have gone off-course when you gotta refer to an established scientific theory as an "issue.")

By March 2009, evolution had enjoyed a mixed victory with the Texan Board of Education. Board members voted 8-7 against requiring teachers and students to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of evolution theory... but also voted 13-2 in favor of examining "all sides of scientific evidence." Which sounds like a great idea, but leaves a massive loophole for instructors to teach creationism.

Things were better by 2011, which was a victory year for evolution in Texas. The board voted 14-0 in favor of middle school curriculums that taught evolution, and all things seemed good for a while. Until now. At the moment, with creationist members on the board poking holes into Pearson Education's science textbook, it feels like history is repeating itself.

But let's not hate on Texas. Or, let's not hate only on Texas. Louisiana voted this May against striking down the Louisiana Science Act, which allows public schools to teach creationism, a policy also around in Tennessee. Plus, schools in Springboro, Ohio could be required to include creationism in their science curriculums.

Kansas didn't adopt common science standards until just this past June, and neither did Kentucky until this past August. And Virginia? Still allows "religious exemptions" for students when evolution class rolls around.

Well, give them some time...

In the meantime, in the spirit of evolution, we've included this somewhat inaccurate but highly compelling GIF. Enjoy!