The Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has asked the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to delay final consideration of its request to grant graduate degrees in science education until April 2008. ICR, like Answers in Genesis, espouses Young-Earth Creationism, a literal view of the Bible that contends the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. ICR is seeking approval from the THECB to begin offering degrees immediately while waiting for accreditation from the state-recognized Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

In mid-December 2007 the Certification Advisory Council of the THECB preliminarily recommended that ICR be allowed to offer on-line Master’s degrees in science education. This recommendation elicited significant outcry from science education advocates; according to the Dallas Morning News, the THECB received over 200 emails on the subject, including a letter from 2007 AIBS president Douglas J. Futuyma urging the THECB to deny ICR certification. On behalf of AIBS, Futuyma wrote, “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.” He continued, “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.” The letter may be read at: http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20071228aibsletterto5.html In response to the AIBS letter and those from many other science education advocates, THECB Commissioner Raymund Paredes appointed a second committee of scientists and science educators to re-evaluate the ICR. He told Education Week on 9 January, “Our primary objective in looking at this program is to make sure any master’s degree in science education will prepare teachers who can get students in high school ready to do college-level work in science.”

To this end, Paredes requested ICR to supply more specific information on its online learning program, science curriculum, and faculty research. The entire THECB was initially scheduled to vote on the ICR request on 23 January 2008, but ICR has asked for an extension to address Paredes’ concerns; the THECB is now expected to consider the application at its 24 April 2008 meeting.

 


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