Evolving Education

State Board suggests changes for biology

Rachel Boone, Reporter

The State Education Board is currently dicussing changes to biology TEKS regarding the teaching of evolution. Their vote may change classroom teachings from the traditional theory of evolution that is taught across the state, instead opting to teach “all sides” of scientific theory. The shift will take place in April, and if passed, will go into effect beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.Infographic by Rachel Boone

The leaders in favor of the change in curriculum claim that the current course of study is harder to analyze and makes it more difficult for students to learn and assess the subject as it is.

Last month, school district officials and board members recommended changing the language of or even cutting standards that require Texas biology students to learn about scientific theories or occurrences that the theory of evolution can’t account for. However, on February 1, the Board reinstated most of the language in question, allowing the curriculum to include topics such as the origin of life.

The course standards that the Board is considering dropping were initially meant to be a compromise between evolution and theories that challenge it, despite those in favor of removing the standards from the course arguing that they are arduous to teach or too vague.

Texas liberals, such as Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, have openly opposed the changes, arguing that they are based on the beliefs of the Board members themselves rather than scientific fact, and that such adjustments will make it difficult for teachers to teach students effectively.

Each amendment to reinstate the language that may stray away from evolution-based theories requires the teaching of scientific explanations events in biology, which is intended to root out creationist philosophy and leave such theories more open to interpretation, rather than heavily based on evolution.

The final vote by the Board regarding these changes will take place in April, and if passed, will go into effect beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The new curriculum standards will control the nature of the information covered by teachers, what appears in textbooks, and what areas of study will appear on standardized tests.

“Evolution is a science-based theory,” former biology teacher Michele Cooley said. “There’s scientific evidence for it and scientific evidence is fairly indisputable. I think that sometimes the interpretation becomes different than what the evidence is, and that’s where we get lost.