The science education community is celebrating a win after a vote at the Texas State Board of Education this past Friday. The board has approved new language in the teaching of evolution that moves away from openly questioning the validity of the theory of evolution.
Yes, in 2017 we still need to battle it out over evolution, despite it being over 150 years since Darwin first published "On the Origin of Species". Because Christians need to worm their way into every aspect of everyone's lives, including science classes. But in this case, the needle moved in the right direction, thankfully.
This is important because, as anyone familiar with the U.S. education system is aware of, the Texas board has a huge influence on what goes into textbooks used across the country. Texas originally acquired this powerful status by paying 100 percent of the cost for all public school textbooks, as long as those books were approved by the Texas board. Even now their ability to impact students across the country is a problem, because textbook publishers usually cater to the whims of the Texas board (Texas buys 48 million textbooks a year, so as with most things, it is all about the money). Problems with Texas’ influence aside, hopefully this recent decision is a small step in the right direction for improving science curriculums across the country.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said of the vote, “This is an important victory for science, for science education, and most importantly, for Texas students. The culture wars have no place in our classroom, and today’s decision is one important step toward this board recognizing that.”
As I covered in a post last fall, there are studies showing that science understanding and acceptance is nowhere near where it should be among students in the southern states of the U.S. The religious opposition to evolution is highly concentrated in those southern states and the impact is measurable, and doing real harm to the future of students in those areas.
So yes, we can worry about churches that are close to getting their own police force, or the Catholic schools using taxpayer money to keep themselves operating, and we will absolutely keep worrying about those situations, but sometimes we also have to celebrate the small victories against the onslaught of religious attempts at cultural and governmental domination. Victories are possible, provided we continue to persist in opposing the attempts by the faithful to foist their religion on everyone.