by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy
Incredible news out of Texas: creationists have lost a big battle to destroy science education in the Lone Star State!
The State Board of Education voted on the science standards — the list of basic scientific knowledge students should have at various grade levels, like knowing that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter, the Earth goes around the Sun, and — say — evolution is the basic and most fundamental aspect upon which all of modern biology is based.
Creationists on the board (and there are many) tried to water down the standards by creating a phony baloney "strengths and weaknesses" amendment, a totally bogus and arbitrary rule that says that teachers have to point out where a theory has faults. They did this specifically to weaken the teaching of evolution in biology classes. They don’t actually care if the students get a solid education on the fact of evolution, they only care to tear down real science and replace it with Biblical literalism.
And they failed. According to the fantastic science-based Texas Freedom Network, which has been live-blogging the vote, the creationist amendment lost in a 7-7 vote. They could not add the amendment without an actual victory, so the tie means the garbage amendment goes down.
But before you dance in the streets, have a mind that the vote was tied 7-7. In other words, half the people on the Texas State School Board of Education thought it was fine and dandy that evolution, a foundation of modern science and shown to be fact beyond reasonable doubt, be taught as being weak and flawed.
So once again, we see that creationists have lost, but we also know that they will never, ever admit defeat. Remember, their entire outlook on life is not based on reality, but dogma, and so they cannot rest, cannot stop, without shattering their whole worldview.
So as always, this is not over, despite this advance. It’s a victory for the students of Texas and for reality, but the war will rage on.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (and I’m not the first): the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Stay sharp, Texas. They’ll regroup. Bet on it.
[UPDATE: TFN notes that a final vote will come Friday on all the standards, so even this chapter of the battle isn’t over yet. Stay Tuned.]