Huffpost Politics

Biggest Texas Charter School Network Reportedly Teaching Creationism

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TEXAS CREATIONISM
In this July 21, 2011, file photo, Joe Zamecki protests out side a building where the Texas Board of Education held a meeting, in Austin, Texas. The Texas Board of Education attracted a fierce debate as it considered how the next round of science textbooks will address such issues as creationism and climate change. Science advocate Zack Kopplin recently alleged that a chain of charter schools in Texas has been pushing creationism in the classroom. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to science advocate Zack Kopplin, Texas students in more than 65 schools are not learning real science. Instead, he alleges, students enrolled in schools operated by the state’s largest charter school program are learning a curriculum that is riddled with factual errors, pushes creationism and undermines evolution.

Kopplin, 20, railed against the crooked standards at Responsive Education Solutions charter schools in an article published on Slate.com Thursday. He says he used an open records request to attain copies of the workbooks used to educate Responsive Ed students and found science lessons that call evolution a “dogma” and an “unproven theory.” He also said he saw history lessons with a misogynistic and religious agenda.

“What I found is that, really unquestionably, the Responsive Education Solutions program is teaching creationism,” Kopplin told The Huffington Post over the phone about the publicly funded, secular charter school network. “It highlights supernatural creationism as a legitimate alternative to evolution. It says that evolution is unproved dogma with no experimental basis.”

One Responsive Ed worksheet, according to scanned lessons Kopplin shared with The Huffington Post, describes the evolutionary theory of humans as being the subject of much “skepticism, debate, and change.” Another explains that some see creationism and evolution as being in conflict with each other, and that some scientists try to bridge this conflict through subscribing to the theory of intelligent design.

The “theory [of evolution] needs to be better supported by hard evidence,” reads another worksheets, encapsulating the overall message of these lessons.

When Kopplin spoke with Rosalinda Gonzalez, the vice president of academic affairs for Responsive Ed, she told him that their curriculum “teaches evolution, noting, but not exploring, the existence of competing theories," per the Slate article.

According to information provided to Kopplin from the Texas Education Agency, Responsive Ed is currently conducting an internal review of allegations that its schools are teaching creationism. The agency will also be conducting its own review of the material.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that teaching creationism in schools violates the separation of church and state.

Texas science curriculum standards make no mention of creationism, but they do say that “students should analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations” while "examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking."

Kopplin thinks that Responsive Ed lessons outwardly challenge evolution in a way that is unconstitutional.

“They undermine evolution without saying straight-out evolution is wrong, but every time they present evolution they undercut it,” he told HuffPost.

Texas leaders have a history of pushing creationism in school. Every Republican candidate currently running for lieutenant governor recently said they support the teaching of creationism in schools. And at a political forum earlier this month, a candidate running for the Texas Board of Education said, "We know we didn't come from monkeys."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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