Evolution In Texas Schools? Debate Erupts Over Biology Book

Debate over the teaching of evolution in Texas schools has returned to the state’s Board of Education. Concern from a materials reviewer over a biology textbook which discusses the theory of evolution has led to a delay of the textbook’s approval. Debate has once again returned to Texas over the value of teaching evolution in public schools.

November has been a month of reviewing new school textbooks by the Texas Board of Education. The southern state’s review process has gained the attention of many across the nation because of its significance beyond Texas. It’s a big state and typically the books Texas settles on to buy and use in their public schools are the ones that often get picked up by public schools in other states, reports Huffington Post.

This year’s textbook review in Texas has gained extra attention nationwide for other reasons, too. It includes several controversial panel members known for their belief in creationism and remain skeptical of climate change. One reviewer has expressed concern over the lack of Bible-based creationism being included in science curriculum. Others have taken issue with science books that discuss climate change as a settled matter.

The Texas Board of Education’s job is to, technically, report any factual errors they find in the proposed textbooks. One textbook, titled simply “Biology,” has been cited for 20 alleged errors. These included sections on the period of time it took the earth to cool and concepts associated with evolution, like natural selection.

Final approval over whether or not to reject the textbook will be up to a panel of appointed experts, reports New York Times. Those who take part in the final review process must have at least a Ph. D. in a relevant scientific field, agreed upon by the board.

The objections to the textbook were raised by reviewer Ide P. Trotter, a chemical engineer and financial advisor. Trotter is known for his stance against teaching evolution in Texas schools, according to New York Times. He stands by his list of errors in the biology textbook, saying “I think I did a pretty good review, modestly speaking.”

The textbook’s publisher, Pearson Education, has already refused to make the listed changes. A spokeswoman for the publishing company, Susan Aspey, says she and the company are “proud” of their materials and plan to stand by them.

As the vice chairman of the Board of Education, Republican Thomas Ratliff, says, “I believe the process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes.” Ratliff admits that, as a business degree major, he has little expert knowledge in science to be able to reasonably object to a textbook that teaches evolution in Texas schools.

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