About laws and sausages, it is said that you really don’t want to see how they are made. Even worse, however, is to see the making of TEKS education standards in Texas.
I’ve just spent some agonizing hours capturing the audio feed of the January 22 meeting of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), where they adopted amendments to the draft of science standards that were voted for provisionally the day before.
After reading the live blogs here, here, and here, I figured I would skip Thursday hearings. I’ve been persuaded, though, that these files will be helpful; so here they are (Meanwhile, TFN reports legislation introduced that would require the TEA to post audio and video files on its site in the future):
The first of these mp3 files (which you can play here or download) features discussion of Cynthia Dunbar‘s proposed amendment to restore the “Strengths & Weaknesses” language (you can read the blogs linked above for commentary).
These amendments were defeated.
Some of these passed. It seemed clear to me that Board members did not know what they were voting on.
This was hard to sit through.
My favorite moment was when somebody (probably Miller) asked Cargill who the Earth and Space Science experts were that she consulted with, and she said Garner and Meyer.
The next file includes (1) discussion of Terri Leo’s amendments to make the standards “stronger” by substituting “analyze and evaluate” in place of other verbs, such as “recognize” or “describe.” I know that the science folks reading this will think that these are harmless enough. But to me passage of these amendments shows the Board has no idea what they’re doing with curriculum. I will need to post separately on that later. For now, I’ll just say that the ramifications of such wording are among the reasons why these things should be done by the professionals in writing groups, working with TEA staff, and not by Board members who have given not a thought to what this means.
|| added Feb. 6: Curricublog post on Leo’s amendments (with audio) ||
This file also includes (2) discussion of McLeroy‘s amendment requiring students to know the definition of science and understand its limitations. (I think this actually undercuts the position McLeroy has argued for elsewhere: He’s said that science should not be limited to naturalistic explanations, since that would preclude science from finding truths that are not naturalistic. Now he seems to be embracing the definition by which science recognizes that any such non-naturalistic truth would lie outside its purview.)
Finally, the fourth and last of these files contains discussion of McLeroy’s amendment to cast doubt on common descent.
As proposed, this amendment read as follows:
7B: Describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common descent to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of the fossil record.
After listening to the audio, however, I think it passed worded like this:
Analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common descent to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of the fossil record.
I can’t be sure. It seemed like the SBOE members weren’t sure either. I’m sure they don’t know the different implications of those wordings.
In a previous post, I’ve pointed out that even the Discovery Institute’s own Michael Behe recognizes common descent as something that is undeniably true.
Click here for audio of the hearings November 19, 2008.