Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to approve sound science materials and keep religious concepts out of public school biology classes.
The 15-member elected board convenes today and Friday for a public hearing and to debate and vote on instructional materials for science courses.
“This board has a duty to provide Texas students with the best education possible,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “That means listening to scientists and educators, not pressure groups with a religious agenda.”
In 2009, the board adopted a science curriculum that left open the door for approval of creationist materials. Since Texas legislators don’t have enough funding to purchase new science textbooks, the state will now buy $60 million worth of online supplemental science materials based on the board’s recommendation.
Several vendors have submitted materials for consideration, including the Discovery Institute and International Databases. Both of these groups have proposed materials that question evolution.
In written testimony submitted to the SBOE, Sarah Weis, president of the Americans United Austin Chapter, reminds the board that the federal courts have repeatedly struck down the teaching of creationism, “intelligent design” and other religious concepts in public school science classrooms.
“Religious indoctrination is not permissible in public schools,” Weis asserts. “Accordingly, courts have consistently found that creationism, intelligent design, and all other similar criticisms of evolution cannot be taught in public school classrooms.
“Placing materials that include numerous factual errors and unsound science in Texas classrooms not only undermines science education, creates constitutional problems, and threatens the religious liberty of students and their families,” Weis continued, “but such materials deprive the students of our state from receiving proper science education.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.