The “strengths and weaknesses” showdown

Back in January, the State Board of Education somewhat surprisingly voted to remove anti-science “strengths and weaknesses” language from the curriculum. That was only a preliminary vote, however, and today is the day that the hearings begin for the final vote. The Texas Freedom Network gives a preview.

After more than a year of work and often bitter debate, the State Board of Education is set this week to decide what the next generation of Texas students will learn in their public school science classrooms. Media outlets across the country (including the New York Times here and here, the Wall Street Journal today and even FOX News) have focused attention on the important battle over what the state’s new science curriculum standards should require schools to teach about evolution.

Beginning with the public hearing at noon on Wednesday, we will be live-blogging the debate for three days. So you will be able to keep up with the action here. A preliminary vote is scheduled for Thursday, with a final vote coming Friday.


What students should learn about evolution isn’t really debated in much of the rest of the developed world. In Texas — and, in fact, much of the United States — it still is. And because the huge Texas market is so important to publishers, what this state requires students to learn is likely to be taught in textbooks used by students across the country.

And just to set the scene a little further, here’s what Don McLeroy, the dentist in charge of the SBOE, has been up to in his official capacity as SBOE Chair.

Scientists are “atheists.” Parents who want to teach their children about evolution are “monsters.” Pastors who support sound science are “morons.”

Is that the sort of message Chairman Don McLeroy and his cohorts on the State Board of Education have in mind for Texas science classrooms if they succeed in their campaign to shoehorn “weaknesses” of evolution back into the science curriculum standards? That’s certainly the message of a new book McLeroy is now endorsing.

It gets better. The book’s author, in a series of essays published on his blog, “presents evidence that Barack Obama is directly linked to Satanic teachings through his close association with Oprah Winfrey”. Lord only knows what he thinks about Dr. Phil.

Oh, and it turns out that in addition to everything else, Don McLeroy is a plagiarist. Isn’t that, like, a sin or something? I mean, what will we tell the children? Thanks to Lisa Falkenberg for the catch.

Go click the TFN links to get the details on that – you can even get to a full copy of the book, if you really want to. In any event, this should give you some idea of what to expect. As Evan Smith noted awhile back, get ready for Texas’ image around the world to take another body blow.

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