The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said Tuesday that it will wait until April to decide whether the Institute for Creation Research can offer an online master’s degree in science education. The board was supposed to take up the issue next week.
In November, a team of educators and coordinating board officials visited the institute’s graduate school in Dallas and concluded that it offered a standard science education curriculum. In December, an advisory council recommended that the board approve the institute’s application.
The April meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 24. The issue might be taken up by a committee of the board prior to that meeting.
As the Dallas Morning News reports:
Last week, the state’s higher education commissioner, Raymund Paredes, met with institute officials. He asked for more information about the institute’s science and education coursework “to ensure that the … [institute] is indeed teaching at a graduate level,” the institute said Tuesday in a written statement. So, school officials asked for more time to address the concerns.
Why is this matter a difficult one for Paredes? Shouldn’t this be an easy call? Clarification can be found in Ralph K.M. Haurwitz’s blog on Higher Education at the Austin American-Statesman, in his post: Commissioner watching his legal P’s and Q’s . In short, Paredes’ board has lost a lawsuit in which
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the coordinating board and a 1997 state law overstepped constitutional authority in setting standards for seminary degrees.
So Paredes is being careful to make sure that what they do with this request does not run afoul of that Supreme Court ruling on the limits of what his board can do.
Although Paredes’ focus on whether the institute “is indeed teaching at a graduate level” is understandable, I am using this blog to urge recognition of another issue here. As I noted in an earlier post here, what is at stake here is not only whether this Creationist program will confer graduate degrees sanctioned by the State of Texas, but whether Texas will be interpreting its approval criteria in such a way that Texas accreditation can no longer serve as a basis for Science Teacher credentials, or for the NCLB requirement for a teacher in every classroom who is “Highly Qualified” in the specific subject they are teaching.
Click here for other posts on this blog on the Institute for Creation Research.