December 28, 2007
Dr. Raymund Paredes, Commissioner
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
P.O. Box 12788
Austin, TX 78711-2788
Dear Commissioner Paredes:
On behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, I write to express sincere concern with the request submitted by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) for certification from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to grant master's degrees in science education. The American Institute of Biological Sciences, a professional organization with nearly 200 member scientific societies and organizations with a combined membership of more than 250,000 scientists and science educators, has serious concerns with this request and encourages the THECB to deny certification.
In recent years, national business leaders, politicians, and scientists have joined together in recognition of our need to reinvigorate science education and our nation's innovation enterprise. Various reports have warned that students in the United States are not being properly educated in science and mathematics. International assessments of student performance in science continue to show that U.S. students lag behind their international peers. Corporate leaders continue to express concern about their ability to hire scientifically and technically skilled U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, our international competitors have recognized that scientific research is the key to their economic well-being and are making significant investments in research and education.
A report from the National Center for Educational Statistics, which evaluates student achievement in the states, indicates that in 2005 the average science score for Texas public school eighth-grade students was below the national average and lower than the average of 29 other states. The Fordham Institute, evaluating state science standards in 2005, awarded the 1998 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science a grade of 'F'. Texas should strive to ensure it has the most highly qualified science teachers in the nation. It is through a modern science curriculum and highly qualified educators that Texas will be able to prepare students to be national and international leaders.
ICR is committed to advancing Young Earth Creationism, a literal view of the Bible that contends the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. Young Earth Creationism has repeatedly been shown, legally and scientifically, to be a religious belief system and not a credible scientific explanation for the history of Earth or the diversity of biological systems that have evolved on Earth.
Discounting and ignoring scientific evidence that one finds counter to their personal belief system is an individual choice. It is unacceptable for the state to sanction the training of science educators committed to the practice of advancing their religious beliefs in a science classroom. Advocates for creationism, including Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design, often make the spurious argument that there is scientific controversy surrounding evolution and they simply want to teach children this controversy. This, quite simply, is the most recent strategy to attempt to side-step the United State Constitution, Federal Court decisions, and scientific integrity. There is no scientific controversy surrounding the theory of evolution or the age of Earth.
The Young Earth Creationism world-view permeates the ICR graduate program in Science Teacher Education. Scientists and educators are deeply concerned that a state body might sanction a science teacher training program intended to "assist the learner in developing creation apologetics in his/her science classroom" and "teach the learner how to develop curriculum, instructional strategies, and classroom activities related to creation science thus helping the science teacher equip his/her students with truth."
The THECB will ill-serve science students if it certifies a science teacher education program based on a religious world-view rather than modern science.
Douglas J. Futuyma, Ph.D.
2007 AIBS President
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