Science Will Prevail In Texas Adoption of Biology Textbooks

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

The State Board of Education left us with a bit of a cliffhanger last month. Despite the concerted efforts of creationists, nearly all of the biology textbooks sailed through the adoption process. Two, however, became mired in completely unsurprising ideological objections from the appointed expert reviewers.

Pearson's Biology, one of the most widely used textbooks in the country, was recommended for rejection by reviewer Ide Trotter, a chemical engineer by training and a staunch creationist, because its discussion of evolution didn't pay lip service to repeatedly debunked weaknesses in the theory. The other was an environmental science textbook that dared to report the overwhelming, global consensus that humans are affecting the climate for the worse.

See also: Creationists' Last Stand at the State Board of Education

The books were to pass through a second battery of new experts, which was worrisome. The board has a habit of appointing experts who are either entirely agenda-driven or completely unqualified, or both. So, imagine my surprise when the experts are named, and it turns out that each is a perfectly legitimate authority in the subject matter.

Dr. Ron Wetherington, an SMU evolutionary anthropologist is one. Wetherington has for years been a defender of the integrity of science education in this state, beating back efforts by the SBOE to inject its personal religious and political peccadilloes into public education. The next is Arturo De Lozanne, associate professor of molecular, developmental and cell biology at UT Austin. And lastly, Vincent Cassone, chair of the biology department at the University of Kentucky.

The Kentucky legislature last year suffered a spasm of spiritually inspired education meddling. Cassone was a voice of reason. Oddly enough, as the Texas Freedom Network points out, he was handpicked by SBOE chair Barbara Cargill, whose religious beliefs have never been a secret. Cassone used to be at Texas A&M, so perhaps she knew him. Either way, it's both surprising and heartening.

See also: Texas Republicans in Lt. Governor Race United in Push for Creationism in Public Schools

Their job should be a quick and easy. There's no way these scientists are going to countenance the absurd critiques of two well-respected, widely used texts. The culture war isn't over, but it looks like reason won this round.


Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.