The culture war for young Texan minds is kicking back into high gear. The State Board of Education sent 28 invites to experts around the state to review high school biology textbooks. About a dozen showed up in Austin this week for the final phase of the review. They'll make their recommendations to the SBOE, set to decide in November which textbooks will find their way into classrooms. But in the meantime, textbook publishers may make changes based on the objections they hear from the reviewers. And, according to Texas Freedom Network, about half of them are creationists, some from North Texas.
There's Dr. Raymond Bohlin, VP of Vision Outreach in Plano. He's got a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas in molecular and cell biology, says his website. But he hasn't entirely resolved for himself whether or not the Grand Canyon was carved by the raging flood upon which Noah's Ark surfed. For more than 30 years, he says, he's been making a "scientific case" against Darwinism and for Intelligent Design.
There's Ide Trotter, spokesperson for the inaptly named Texans for Better Science Education and a former dean at Dallas Baptist University, who has worked dutifully to include discussion in science textbooks about evolution's "weaknesses." These weaknesses consist of long-discredited ideas like irreducible complexity. That's the one that boils down to a shrug at certain of life's incredible intricacies like, say, the human eye, followed by the conclusion that only a divine hand could have crafted it.
For those unfamiliar with the reasons why they'd be tapped as expert reviewers by the SBOE, it's important to understand that the fight to insert religion into textbooks is a longstanding one, waged by evangelicals who believe public-school education these days is secular indoctrination. Members of the SBOE are usually elected during off years, when nobody votes. That's why Texas ends up with a former chairperson, a dentist from Bryan, who once famously declared that evolution was "hooey."
Among the occasional goals of the SBOE: Burnishing Joseph McCarthy's legacy and scrubbing slavery and segregation from social studies textbooks.
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Clearly, nothing can go wrong with the selection of high school biology texts.