The State Board of Education will take up several issues at a week long meeting that begins today, but taking center stage will be a culture war between evangelical Christians and mainstream scientists over what should be taught in high school biology classes, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Some Christian groups are pushing for 'alternatives to evolution,' including creationism or what is called 'intelligent design' to be taught along side of the accepted theory of evolution in the textbooks.
"We have a textbook review project which has essentially been hijacked by anti science activists, who want to promote arguments against evolution and climate change that scientists rejected long ago," said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network.
Quinn said the SBOE 'encourages this kind of shenanigans.'
But a conservative group says Quinn is lying. They say only one of dozens of textbook reviewers suggested adding 'creation science' to textbooks, and Quinn and the liberal Texas Freedom Network are wildly exaggerating the claims of a 'fundamentalist takeover' to try to 'discredit any attempt' by parent groups to provide some balance to a liberal slant in textbooks by claiming it is part of an 'anti science conspiracy.'
"The recent statements by the Texas Freedom Network are wildly exaggerating the facts to the point of deceit and misinformation," said Frank Mayo of Texans for Superior Education. "Suggesting Biblical creationism is being pressured into the textbooks is simply false. This is nothing more than a scare tactic to misinform the public and pressure the State Board of Education members into ignoring any valid criticism of the instructional materials that do not suit TFN and their humanist friends."
SBOE members like Marisa Perez of San Antonio say the goal is to get the most scientifically sound textbooks possible into the hands of Texas high school kids, who will have to compete with students from around the world in an increasingly competitive work force.
"We need to have biologists review these texts, we need to find experts in the field with subject matter expertise," Perez told 1200 WOAI news.
She says she has respect for Christians and people who feel strongly about their religion, but the place for religion is in the home and in church, and at school, only accepted science will be included into approved textbooks.