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Leshner Tells Texas Education Officials: "Don't Mess with Science Standards"
Alan I. Leshner
In a Fort Worth Star-Telegram commentary, AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner urged Texas science education officials not to "remain neutral about sticking to science in science classrooms."
Leshner wrote that if science teachers begin to evaluate "scientific facts based on indisputable physical evidence through nonscientific perspectives" including intelligent design and creationism, educators will "surely wind up confusing students about the nature of science versus religion."
Leshner's 11 December Star-Telegram op-ed followed the recent forced resignation of Chris Comer, a science curriculum director at the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Comer was forced to resign when officals at the TEA complained that she had inappropriately forwarded an e-mail to her colleagues about a lecture by Barbara Forrest, a prominent professor of philosophy and critic of intellegent design. The TEA stated that the Texas education system has a "long-standing policy that the pros and cons of scientific theory must be taught."
"These comments... are especially troubling in a state known for its innovation and filled with high-quality research universities," wrote Leshner, who serves also as executive publisher of the journal Science.
He called Comer's forced resignation "both shocking and sad," adding that she "stood up for the integrity of science education."
Citing geneticist Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian and director of the National Human Genome Research Institute who received a 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Leshner said that in a free country, science and religion can co-exist.
Leshner noted the recent bi-partisan support for the America COMPETES Act to improve science education in U.S. schools, and wrote that "if students are to thrive, education leaders cannot pick and choose which scientific facts they want to accept."
12 December 2007