more info on TX, FL evolution & science standards

An article on ars technica (“New Florida state standards spark nonscientific backlash“) includes several links to helpful sources for keeping up on developments in Florida.

An overview on the Texas standards developments can be found in two articles at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Evolution’s status may be debated by state board, and Proponents want `intelligent design’ included in curricula.

Although the “Evolution’s status” article provides some useful background both on Texas and the history of this controversy in the U.S., it contains a factual error about the legal history, and it has been skewered on more general grounds by The Texas Observer. As for the erroneous legal history, they write:

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, creation science and intelligent design introduce religion into the classroom, violating the Constitution.

In fact, although this is accurate with respect to “creation science,” the Supreme Court has never had occasion to rule on “intelligent design”; and there is reason to question how it would rule in a case on that today.

The Dover, PA case was decided by a federal judge at the trial court level. The judge was following precedents from the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the Establishment Clause of the U. S. Constitution. The doctrine behind these precedents has been derided and ridiculed by Justice Scalia, and it is possible that Alito and Chief Justice Roberts would now go along with Scalia in overturning the Constitutional Law doctrines that were followed in the ruling against “intelligent design” in Dover.

During Alito’s confirmation hearings, I did everything I could think of (including writing to my own Senator Joe Biden, the senior majority member of that committee) to get them to question Alito about this area of First Amendment law; but to no avail. Instead, they had their staffs working overnight to try to find some “gotcha” evidence on Alito & a right-wing Dartmouth group. Someday I will have to document my efforts. I was trying to get the point across that the importance of this area is not understood publicly, since it usually comes up in conflicts over things like nativity scenes at Christmas time.

But public education is at stake, and the Supreme Court has not yet spoken on “Intelligent Design.”

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