Chair of Texas Board of Education Wants Science Textbooks to Teach ‘Another Side’ to Evolution

Barbara Cargill, the chair of the State Board of Education in Texas, recently spoke in front of the state’s Senate Committee on Education to complain about CSCOPE, an online curriculum management system.

Her main gripe?

It only teaches one side of the evolution “debate”:

Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations… But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website] last night, I couldn’t find anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson, everything, you know, was taught as “this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,” and all that’s fine, but that’s only one side.

That’s also the only scientifically valid side.

As Brian Tashman writes at Right Wing Watch:

… a biology textbook that includes creationism as a “balance” to evolution would be no different than a geology textbook that includes the views of the Flat Earth Society.

The Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group, put out a press release against Cargill’s comments yesterday:

“These comments should serve as a big red flag about rubber-stamping [Cargill's] reappointment,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today. “Senators must ask hard questions about whether she will pressure publishers into writing textbooks to conform to her personal beliefs instead of sound science and once again put the culture wars ahead of our children’s education.”

Cargill’s comments echo creationist arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of evolution even though scientists have pointed out that such objections were debunked long ago. In 2009 the state board approved Cargill’s recommendation to remove a reference to the scientific consensus on the age of the universe — about 14 billion years old — from the high school curriculum standards.

This isn’t Cargill’s first instance of trying to ruin education for Texas schoolchildren. In fact, TFN has a long list of items (PDF) from her troubling record:

In case you haven’t facepalmed enough, Cargill also mentioned in the video that she’s a Biology teacher.

But, you know, that’s only her view. I’m waiting to hear another side to the story.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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