Texas Board of Education to Revisit Evolution

My colleague Mary Tuma at The Texas Independent reports that the Texas SBOE will revisit evolution and creationism this week when it debates which supplemental material to approve for use in science classrooms. And the new chairman of the board is proving to be as clueless as Don McLeroy, the man she replaced:

In a speech delivered to the conservative pro-family group Texas Eagle Forum last week, newly appointed chair Barbara Cargill (R-Woodlands) questioned the faith of her fellow board members, saying that she was one of only “six true conservative Christians on the board,” the watchdog group Texas Freedom Network noted.

That angered some of her fellow board members:

The statement irked Republican board member and vice chair Bob Craig, who phoned Cargill right away, the Houston Press reported.

“I was offended that her comments seemed to indicate that only six people on the board were Christians,” Craig said. “I am a Christian and very active in First United Methodist Church here in Lubbock. I have very strong religious beliefs, so that kind of comment did not sit well with me.”

Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican new to the board, issued his own response criticizing Cargill’s remarks.

“It’s an unfortunate start to her tenure as chairwoman,” said Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant. “These kind of comments only further divide the board rather than bring us together for the benefit of our students and our schools. I look forward to better days ahead for our new chair.”

And of course, the Discovery Institute is trying hard to get a foot in the door for creationism:

While Democrats Lawrence Allen, Mary Helen Berlanga, Mavis Knight and moderate Republicans Bob Craig and Pat Hardy voted against reintroducing the “strengths and weaknesses” language, the social conservative bloc, like the board chair, voted for diluting textbooks’ focus on evolution.

For assistance, they called on creationism/intelligent design proponents such as Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based anti-evolution group. Now the same group hopes to insert its position into supplemental materials, sending a 71-page report to board members that argues the proposed instructional materials are not critical enough of evolution.

The board meets Wednesday through Friday. I’m sure my friends at the Texas Freedom Network will report everything that happens.

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