AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Board of Education used a late-night meeting to preliminarily approve new science textbooks for classrooms across the state Thursday, but it blocked signing off on a major new biology text until alleged "errors" in lessons over the theory of evolution are checked by outside experts.
The vote just before midnight did not reject the biology book by Pearson, one of the country's largest publishers. But it delayed approval until three board members appoint a trio of outside experts to check concerns.
Textbook and classroom curriculum battles have long raged in Texas pitting creationists — those who see God's hand in the creation of the universe — against academics who worry about religious and political ideology trumping scientific fact. At issue this time are proposed high school biology books that could be used across the state at least through 2022.
State law approved two years ago means school districts can now choose their own books and don't have to adhere to a list recommended by the Board of Education — but most have continued to use approved books.
The issue is important nationally since Texas is so large that many books prepared for publication in the state also are marketed elsewhere around the country.
Publishers from around the country submitted proposed textbooks this summer, but committees of Texas volunteer reviewers — some nominated by socially conservative current and former Board of Education members — raised objections. One argued that creationism based on biblical texts should be taught in science classes, while others objected that climate change wasn't as settled a scientific matter as some of the proposed books said.
Pearson and many other major publishers weren't willing to make suggested major edits and changes, however.
That promoted some of the board's socially conservative members to call for delaying approval of the book because of concerns including how long it took Earth to cool and objection to lessons about natural selection because "selection operates as a selective but not a creative force."
Members outside the socially conservative bloc claimed their colleagues waited until the dead of night to try and impose ideological edits.
"To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant.
He added: "I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes."
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis judge says she expects to soon rule on a 69-year-old inmate's request to overturn his convictions for the 1982 killing of a young mother and brutal assaults on her two daughters.
Rodney Lee Lincoln returned to court Thursday, three decades after he was convicted of manslaughter and first-degree assault in the death of JoAnn Tate and attacks on her daughters, who were then 7 and 4 years old.
Lincoln's case was one of six chosen by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce in 2003 for further scrutiny and DNA testing. His lawyers say the subsequent tests show that a crime scene hair doesn't belong to Lincoln and proves his innocence. Prosecutors say the DNA results don't change the guilt of Lincoln, who is serving a life sentence.
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur has announced a $45 million expansion. The money will go towards a 79,000-square-foot addition that will house over 100 new scientists. The bioscience giant opened in 1998 and employs over 200 people. Construction on the expansion is set to begin in 2014, with the expansion set to open in 2015.