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La. Science Textbooks Win Panel's Backing, Despite Evolution Complaints

A set of proposed life-science textbooks in Louisiana appears on track for adoption by the state's school board, despite complaints that the materials don't provide information questioning the theory of evolution.

A key panel of the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education yesterday voted 6-1 in favor of the textbooks in biology and environmental science, reports the Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge. That vote included backing from a majority of the board's members.

A final vote by the full board is scheduled for tomorrow.

As we reported recently, critics of evolution were urging the board to oppose the textbooks. Defenders have said the criticism of evolution's treatment was misguided and appeared to be a thinly veiled agenda to promote a religiously infused creationist or "intelligent design" perspective on the origins of life.

The Advocate story explains that the vote followed more than two hours of public testimony, both in favor and opposed to the textbooks. Backers argued that the theory of evolution should not be watered down with disclaimers or the injection of religious views into public classrooms.

"I am imploring you to stand up for science education," said Tammy Wood, a veteran educator in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, according to the story.

Opponents argued that the textbooks fail to spell out flaws in evolutionary theory or pave the way for healthy student discussion of the issue.

"There is an in-house bias to hold onto evolution, a 19th-century theory," said Lennie Ditoro, who lives in Mandeville.

The textbooks in question were approved this summer by a state textbook adoption committee. The state board in October adopted a variety of new science textbooks for public schools, but it held off voting on textbooks for Biology I, Biology II, and environmental science, amid the controversy.

Updated (12/09/10 at 4:23pm):
As expected, Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted today to approve the new textbooks, according to an Associated Press story.

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