In Texas, textbook publishers appear to be sticking to the facts.
And it’s royally angering some Texans who have advocated that creationism - that God created the planet - be added to biology books.
Here are the basics:
Proposed biology textbooks in the state focus on, wait for it, evolution. According to documents obtained by a watchdog group called the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), some citizens on a review panel voiced their complaints and said creationism should also be mentioned. The publishers reportedly declined to accept their suggestion. People got mad and the watchdog group praised common sense.
According to the TFN, a reviewer wrote, “I understand the National Academy of Science's [sic] strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent, and grandparent, I feel very firmly that ‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles should be incorporated into every Biology book that is up for adoption.”
The same reviewer also reportedly wrote about a Houghton Mifflin textbook, “While I understand the theory of evolution and its wide acceptance, there should be inclusion of the ‘creation model’ based on the Biblical view of history.”
That might sound crazy to some, but according to a 2012 Gallup poll, a lot of people share a similar view.
Nearly half of those surveyed, 46 percent, said that “God created humans in the present form.” Around a third said humans “evolved, with God guiding,” and just 15 percent said humans “evolved, but God had no part in the process.”
But let’s clear up one thing. A theory in science is different than an everyday theory, and scientists are pretty clear on the fact that the theory of evolution is accurate.
As biologist Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago professor of ecology and evolution pointed out, according to an article in the Harvard Gazette, scientific theory is an explanation for natural phenomenon that is reinforced by data.
“He compared the theory of evolution to “atomic theory” (the idea that matter is made up of atoms) and “germ theory” (which posits that diseases are caused by germs), both widely accepted as fact today,” reads the article.
Arturo De Lozanne, an associate professor in molecular cell and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin praised the publishers for “resisting pressure to do things that would leave high school graduates in Texas ill-prepared to succeed in a college science classroom” in a statement released by the TFN.
“If we want Texas kids to be competitive nationally, we have to ensure that what they learn in their high school classrooms is based on facts, not ideology,” he said. “Having said that, it’s remarkable and distressing that some folks are still arguing over what really is established, mainstream science.”
The Texas Board of Education will decide in November which books to recommend the state’s schools use. The books are scheduled to be in classrooms by the 2014-15 school year.
A spokesperson for the Board of Education wrote in an email that the book reviewers were nominated by the board but that the board would have final "say-so" over which books to recommend and that the "textbooks are supposed to cover the already adopted science curriculum standards. Those standards include evolution."
Thomas Ratliff, the board's vice chair added during a phone interview with Fusion that the episode is a "highlight of a flaw in the review panel process that I and some of my colleagues want to revisit in light of this."
"I think our kids," he said, "need to be taught science in science class."
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.