Today, scientists and educators across the country are watching Texas. Why? Because the Texas Board of Education begins a three-day public testimony today to decide whether the phrase “truths and weaknesses” should be included in the state’s science standards when discussing evolution. On Friday, the 15-member board will likely vote on whether this language should be included in textbooks, and their decision could sway how evolution is taught in biology classes around the country.
Backers of the “truths and weaknesses” language are mostly creationists who believe Darwin’s theory is wrong and that the world is roughly 10,000 years old. They want teachers to be required to teach that there are weaknesses in evolutionary theory, and that the fossil record might align more closely with their views.
Because the Texas textbook market is so huge, textbook publishers around the country often write to the Lone Star State’s standards. This means that if the school board votes to include the “truths and weaknesses” language, new textbooks with this language could end up all over the country. And because the board is voting on what their science standard should be for the next decade, their decision will be reflected in the textbooks for a long time.
“This is the most specific assault I’ve seen against evolution and modern science,” Steven Newton, a project director at the National Center for Science Education, told the Wall Street Journal.
Last January, the board actually voted to remove “truths and weaknesses” language—which had been in textbooks for two decades—from the science standards. Since then, the board members—particularly three republicans that voted to remove the language—have been under fire for their decision. This week’s vote will surely fan the flame, regardless of the outcome.