21st-Century Science Coalition is a group of Texas
scientists who have come together for a common
purpose: to ensure that Texas students get a sound
science education that reflects the most current
scientific knowledge and is based on established
scientific data. We simply believe that students deserve
the best science education in their Texas classrooms.
Please also see the statements made by the Advisory Committee at the September 30, 2008, press conference announcing the 21st Century Science Coalition.
Why is the 21st Century Science Coalition Necessary?
In 2008-09 the Texas State Board of Education is revising
the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum
standards for the sciences. These standards lay out
the core curriculum guidelines for all Texas public
school science classes. Alarmingly, a number of members
of the state board have expressed hostility to teaching
evolution, a concept that is a central pillar in any
modern science education. Chairman Don McLeroy recently
told the New York Times that the Texas state board was
preparing for a debate between two systems of science:
“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist
system.” (NYT, June 4, 2008)
Politicians on the state board have publicly indicated
their intention to exploit the wording of the existing
standards which requires coverage of the “strengths
and weaknesses” of scientific theories. On its
face, this might seem like common sense to non-scientists.
But as MacArthur Fellow and University of Texas biology
professor David Hillis told the New York Times, the
main purpose of the “weaknesses” strategy
is to introduce religious ideas in the guise of science
in our public school classroom.
that biological populations evolve is not in question.
Evolution is an easily observable phenomenon and has
been documented beyond any reasonable doubt. The ‘theory’
part of evolutionary theory concerns the experiments,
observations, and models that explain how populations
At this level of introductory instruction, it is ludicrous
to think about teaching what some people disingenuously
call ‘weaknesses.’ We teach what is known
and has been supported by a huge body of scientific
A note about science and faith
It is wrong when politicians portray support for teaching
evolution as a position that is necessarily hostile
to faith. Many people of faith – including many
scientists – do not believe that accepting the
science of evolution means rejecting their religion.
We can do best by our kids and honor the faith choices
of all Texans by teaching sound science in science classrooms
and leaving religion to families and congregations.
What’s at stake?
This is more than an academic question. Biotechnology
is a key player in our future economy, and biotech firms
move to places with well-trained biologists. Evolutionary
biology has made fundamental contributions to drug synthesis,
medical genetics, and our understanding of the origins
and dynamics of diseases. Evolutionary principles are
applied daily by people working in medicine, agriculture,
engineering, and pharmaceuticals.
If we want our children to succeed
in college and these jobs of the future, we must ensure
that their education is based on sound science. In
short, the stakes of this debate – and the
ramifications of the decision on science standards
at the State Board of Education – are simply
too high for the science community to watch from the