Texas science standards

26 01 2009

As you’ve probably heard, the Texas Board of Education recently made amendments to the state science standards, including removing the “strengths and weaknesses” language. Yay, right?

Not yay. Other revisions made were based on advice from a DI drone. Examples:

Original:

(4) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

Revision:

(4) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal differing theories about the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

See, if we were talking about a college curriculum this would be great, because there are differing theories regarding the specifics of what happened. But before college, this can refer only to learning very general things like the Big Bang. And there isn’t a “differing theory” there.

Original:

(5) Earth in Space and Time. The student knows that Earth’s place in the solar system is explained by the solar nebular accretionary disk model.

Revision:

(5) Earth in Space and Time. The student understands that Earth’s place in the solar system is explained by the solar nebular accretionary disk model.

This one isn’t so bad in that you can’t force a student to believe it. As long as they understand the model, they should be allowed to refuse to accept it. On the other hand, the goal of science standards is to convince students of reality, so the goal is for them to understand that this is the explanation.

Original:

(5)(B) investigate sources of heat, including kinetic heat of impact accretion, gravitational compression, and radioactive decay, which allows protoplanet differentiation into layers;

Revision:

(5)(B) investigate sources of heat, including kinetic heat of impact accretion, gravitational compression, and radioactive decay, which are thought to allow protoplanet differentiation into layers;

This one’s also minor but stupid. Technically it’s true that they are only “thought to,” but this is, for the purposes of a public school science curriculum, fact, not hypothesis.

Original:

(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and rate and diversity of evolution;

Revision:

(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and rate and diversity of evolution and assess the arguments for and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence;

First, they are transitional fossils. They aren’t proposed transitional fossils. Second, the “with regard to….evolution” is the entire point of learning about them. They’re not just evidence for evolution, they show how it works. And third, THERE ARE NO ARGUMENTS AGAINST. There is not a single piece of credible evidence indicating anything but common ancestry of all living things on Earth.

Texas, please kick some of these IDiots off the board. Or maybe just kick them.

(via skepchick)

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