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This article is from the In-Depth Report New Challenges for Evolution Education

Texas vote moves evolution to the top of the class

The Texas Board of Education voted today by a 13-to-2 margin to change controversial language in the state's curriculum, making it harder for creationism to creep into public classrooms. For the past 20 years, the state's curriculum has instructed teachers to present the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories, opening the door to nonscientific, faith-based alternatives.

Today's vote strikes the old language and replaces it with instruction to "analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing," according to Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a pro-evolution non–profit based on Oakland, Calif. Other curriculum amendments proposed by social conservatives failed today, according to the Dallas Morning News, including two that called for biology classes to dissect the "sufficiency or insufficiency" of evidence for aspects of evolutionary theory.

Texas' curriculum can have a major impact on what's taught nationwide because it's such a big buyer of textbooks. "It's kind of like the Wal-Mart effect," says NCSE spokesperson Steven Newton. "If they won't carry your product, you modify your product so they will buy it." The Texas changes are set to take effect next year and remain in place until 2020.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/DigitalOtter

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