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Texas Considers Changing Evolution Standards

The Texas Board of Education has voted to loosen requirements to teach high school biology students to consider "all sides" of the theory of evolution, the Associated Press reports.

The school board approved the current standards in 2009, which tells teachers to have their students examine "all sides of scientific evidence" on evolution, the AP says in a separate piece. While the standards say this is to encourage critical thinking, teachers and academics have said that this has allowed religious ideology and creationism into the classroom. Other current standards require teachers have lessons on the complexity of human cells, the origin of life, and gaps in the fossil record.

As the AP reports, the Board of Education voted this week to strike the "all sides" standard, while keeping the others. However, the AP notes that "[a]cademics argue that still leaves room for questioning evolution since discussion of those gaps — and some study of cell makeup and life origins — is built on creationist theories."

Since Texas is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks in the US, what is decided in the state has ramifications elsewhere, the AP says, adding that that influence has waned in recent years.

The AP adds that there's another vote today and one in April before the changes are final.