Educational Research Analysts


CANs and CAN'Ts
of teaching origins
in public school science classes

On public school science course content standards, keep in mind the:

distinction between what teachers must teach,
and what they may teach

States can legally require teachers to discuss evolution in science classes. They cannot require them to discuss creation. Teachers may discuss creation in science classes if they wish.

prevailing notion that evolution is scientific,
and that creation is religious

This is why courts always overturn mandates to discuss creation in science classes. But satis­fac­tory public school science course content stan­dards on evolution are possible within this con­straint.

distinction between scientific weaknesses in evolutionary theory,
and scientific evidence for creation

Courts allow requiring the former, but not the latter, in public school science courses, because they (wrongly) assume that evolution is scientific but creation is religious.

distinction between requiring discussion of weaknesses
of all scientific theories, and "singling out" evolution

To avoid legal challenges alleging a "non-secular purpose" in public school science courses, for­mu­late general curriculum standards on this topic that do not mention evolution.

Texas has met those criteria over the years
with these variant wordings of its
public school science course standards:

"examining alternative scien­tif­ic evi­dence and ideas to test, modify, verify, or refute scientific the­o­ries"

"The student shall be provid­ed con­tent ne­ces­sary to for­mu­late, dis­cuss, critique, and review hypo­theses, theories, laws, and prin­ciples and their strengths and weak­nes­ses."

"The student is ex­pect­ed to ana­lyze, review, and cri­tique scien­tific expla­na­tions, includ­ing hypo­theses and theories, as to their strengths and weak­nesses using scien­tific evi­dence and in­for­ma­tion."

Educational Research Analysts   •  PO Box 7518  •  Longview, Texas  75607
phone 903/753-5993  •  fax 903/753-8424  •