Ken Miller, Joe Levine—and evolution—win in Texas

If you’ve followed the Texas Textbook Kerfuffle (see my post here), you’ll know that the Texas School Board approved all of the high-school biology textbooks submitted to them except for one: Ken Miller and Joe Levine’s best-selling and evolution-heavy Biology, published by Pearson. That one was held up by a creationist reviewer who demanded all sorts of ludicrous changes, changes that were patiently but forcefully rebutted by the authors (see my earlier post for some examples).

Now, thank Ceiling Cat, the process is over, and Miller and Levine won. As this evening’s New York Times reports, the panel vetting this book overrode the creationist’s objection, and Miller and Levine will apparently be available in Texas without redaction:

. . . an unidentified volunteer reviewer complained to the Texas State Board of Education that it presents evolution as scientific fact rather than a theory, which conflicts with the creation story written in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

The reviewer concluded that the text, which includes lessons on natural selection and the Earth’s cooling process, are errors that needed to be corrected by publisher Pearson Education, one of the nation’s largest producers of school textbooks and a unit of Pearson Plc.

The opinion caused the board to delay approval of the textbook and appoint a three-member panel of science experts to analyze the book’s lessons and report any factual mistakes.

“The professors didn’t recommend any changes so the book is now approved,” Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said in an email. “Schools can purchase it this spring for use in the fall.”

Until the expert panel ruled, Pearson was not able to market its book as approved by the board to school districts in Texas.

The state’s more than 1,000 public school districts are permitted to order their own books and materials, but most follow the state-approved list.

Well, at least that battle appears to be won. The ID crowd will be fuming over at the Discovery Institute (after all, 6 of the 11 textbook reviewers were evolution denialists). Just this year they’ve lost at Ball State, they’ve lost at Amarillo College in Texas, and now they’ve lost big time in Texas, with not a single creationist criticism enforced on the book publishers.

When Walter Cronkite reported, after visiting Vietnam in 1968, that the war was unwinnable, Lyndon Johnson supposedly said, “If we’ve lost Cronkite, we’ve lost Middle America.”  Well, if the IDers have lost Texas, they’ve lost all of America.

h/t: Greg Mayer

19 Comments

  1. Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I feel like throwing a victory party! And this was so brilliantly said: “When Walter Cronkite reported, after visiting Vietnam in 1968, that the war was unwinnable, Lyndon Johnson supposedly said, “If we’ve lost Cronkite, we’ve lost Middle America.” Well, if the IDers have lost Texas, they’ve lost all of America”.

    • ploubere
      Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      They haven’t lost Tennessee. Here, teaching creationism in science classes has effectively been endorsed by the state legislature, by a law that allows teachers to present “the weaknesses of the theory”.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        a law that allows teachers to present “the weaknesses of the theory”.

        I’m guessing that that would be a very short unit…

  2. ratabago
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m relieved about that. This particular case had the reek of petty vengeance about it. So after this and Dover I guess Miller is 2 – 0 vs the Design Institute.

  3. John Perkins
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    What a Solstice Gift for all non-believers!!!!

    • gbjames
      Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      And believers, too, although many of them don’t realize it.

  4. Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, Dr. Miller, and thanks again!

    b&

  5. Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    ! S.W.E.E.T. ! for m’Texan grandkiddo’s sake !

    Thank The FULL MOON ‘nd The Winter Solstice !

    Blue

  6. Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    This step forward is very good news, though the people bent on creating the ‘Christian Dominion of Texas’ (including many state officeholders) will doggedly maneuver to march the state two steps back. So we’ll see.

  7. jeffery
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    A “volunteer” reviewer (who doesn’t have the cajones to reveal his name)? Where can I sign up to become a “volunteer” reviewer of these textbooks?
    Keep an eye on these IDrs: they have more lives than a cat!

  8. Sean
    Posted December 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I know Ken Miller has commented on this blog before so Dr. Miller if you’re reading these I want to say congratulations and thank you for writing the textbook that sparked my interest in biology, botany, and evolution.

  9. Posted December 19, 2013 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Excellent!

  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    That _is_ good news indeed.

    Congrats to Miller and Levine!

  11. Posted December 19, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    It’s a shame that we’re forced to celebrate when reason and sanity prevail. But I guess any excuse to celebrate helps bring a little extra joy to the world. :-)

  12. fourthmeal
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Has anyone read any detailed reporting on how this outcome came about? I seem to remember reading about evolution opponents’ having had remarkable control of Texas science and history textbook design some years back, during the Bush presidency. Is this decision reflective merely of coincidental demographic changes, or disorganization or dissent within the previous creationist community, or some specific process of activism on the part of science-promoting activists? Does anyone know?

  13. Posted December 19, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    “Well, if the IDers have lost Texas, they’ve lost all of America.”

    One should never underestimate these zealots. I’m amazed that this happened in Texas, I can’t explain it, but one thing for sure–they’re not going anywhere & they’re not giving up.

  14. marksolock
    Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.


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