On the website of the Texas Freedom Network, “africangenesis” comments:
Ed Darrell, I doubt you can trace the failure of Texas schools to the “strengths and weaknesses” language which has been around a couple of decades.
Jonathan Saenz (identified by TFN as “director of legislative affairs for Plano-based Free Market Foundation, the Texas affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family) and members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) made a big deal of this argument. When asked by SBOE members if they had evidence that the language has done damage, the university science instructors and professors replied that they didn’t have the kind of evidence that would come from systematic studies, but they did know from their teaching experience that Texas high school graduates have been very poorly educated on what science is and how it works.
Some witnesses testified that Texas science teachers have been intimidated from teaching science, and several said their HS science teachers had avoided evolution altogether. The “strengths and weaknesses” language is obviously not the exclusive cause of this situation, but it is a key element in maintaining the regime of untruth that evidently has harmed Texas science education over recent decades.
Here’s one example from a student (Garrett Mize, who’s now a junior at UT-Austin):
Added November 29: There are now audio files of the whole thing (in seven parts, aligned with the TFN blog pages) posted here on this blog.
That post also links to wiki pages for building up an annotated review of the proceedings, indexed by times and speakers.