Leave education to the experts, not creationists
* 01 April 2009
Editorial: Leave education to the experts, not creationists - 01 April 2009 - New Scientist
THERE is something badly wrong with the way standards for school science are set in the US. When the Texas State Board of Education voted in new standards last week (see "Texas vote leaves loopholes for teaching creationism") it left the door ajar for teaching creationism under the guise of science in federally funded schools.
These loopholes must be closed, and quickly.
Because standards are set at state level, students in one state might be learning different science and using different textbooks than students in another.
What is worse, the state boards of education that are responsible for standards and textbooks are made up of elected officials who need not have any expertise or credentials in the relevant areas of science or education.
Elected officials on state school boards often lack any credentials in science or education
As we saw in the 2005 trial over teaching intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania, and are now seeing in Texas, school boards have become a political battleground.
Many board members appear to be acting on behalf of religious groups like local churches or the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based standard-bearer of the intelligent design movement.
School science standards should be set by people who understand science and science education.
At the same time, it is dangerous to argue that the powers of democratically elected officials should be taken away if they don't produce the outcome you want.
Yet that is what may happen in Texas.
State senator Rodney Ellis and representative Garnet Coleman, both Democrats, have introduced legislation that would transfer authority for textbooks and curricula to the Texas Education Agency.
Is there a way out of this impasse?