Monday, February 10, 2014

Texas Charter Schools Falsify Evolution

The last time the Texas Board of Education picked science standards, the board’s creationist majority added this. “In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations…, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations.…”

The Responsive Education Solutions charter school system, enrolling more than 17,000 children mostly in Texas, but some in Arkansas and Indiana, uses that language to falsify evolution.

In January, the online magazine, Slate, printed a powerful article by Zack Kopplin about Responsive Ed.

Kopplin reports that Responsive Ed’s biology workbooks “both overtly and underhandedly discredit evidence-based science and allow creationism into public-school classrooms.” Kopplin lists a series of false or misleading workbook statements.

The books say the fossil record is “uncertain,” that “Some scientists…question the validity of conclusions concerning the age of the earth,” and that evolution can’t be tested. They say that evolution competes with other scientific theories, and that it is controversial among scientists.

In quick response to Kopplin’s article, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) called for the Texas education commissioner to investigate Responsive Ed.

TFN led the battle against creationist science standards and against demands to weaken coverage of evolution in Texas textbooks.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA)  made this reply.

“Responsive Ed is voluntarily conducting its own internal review. The Texas Education Agency is also independently reviewing the materials to determine that the state curriculum is being covered.…complaints…regarding instruction at the campus level are a local matter in Texas to be addressed by…boards of local education agencies.”

Responsive Ed’s Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Cook, posted an answer to the Kopplin article. His defense confirms Kopplin’s report.

Here are Cook’s own quotations from the Responsive Ed workbook.

“Evolution by natural selection.…gave nonreligious scientists a way to explain the diversity of life.”

“In recent years, two schools of thought —creationism and evolution—have been at conflict in schools, universities, and scientific circles.”

“For many, supernatural creation…is a more plausible explanation.”

Kopplin’s article prompted the Indiana Charter School Board and the Indianapolis mayor’s charter school office to review Responsive Ed’s curriculum.

The Arkansas Times has tried to get state officials to take action. At the time this article was written, they had brushed off its advice.

If you want to read Kopplin’s article, you can google Zack Kopplin Slate. The article is headed, Texas Public Schools Are Teaching Creationism.

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