Starting today, the school board will hear from the public on amendments passed in January that opponents say undermine the commonly held scientific tenet that all life on Earth evolved from the same primitive genetic material that emerged from the primordial ooze roughly four billion years ago.
The charge is being led by Texas school board chairman Don McLeroy. The Wall Street Journal reports McLeroy is pushing an amendment that would require teachers and textbooks in the Lone Star State to teach the "weaknesses" or "insufficiency" of the common ancestry idea.
McLeroy, who believes God created the world less than ten-thousand years ago, also wants teachers to present the theory that human cells are too complex to have been formed by chance mutation and natural selection. That philosophy is strongly supported by religious groups that believe a so-called "intelligent designer" created the universe.
Many mainstream scientists see these caveats as an attempt to teach creationism in schools.
The school board is expected to hold a final vote on the changes to the state's science curriculum Friday. The outcome could have far-reaching implications. Because Texas is a huge textbook market, many publishers tailor their books to the state's curriculum. They then distribute those textbooks nationwide.
The National Science Teachers Association, the organization promoting science teaching and learning, opposes the revised Texas state science education standards.
The Science Teachers Association wants the Board to oppose amendments that they say "could undermine sound science education in Texas."
At its January 2009 meeting, the Texas SBOE adopted a series of amendments to the TEKS that the Science teachers says "misrepresent biological evolution."