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Despite Perry claim, Texas schools don’t teach creationism alongside evolution

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/RickPerry_Thumb.jpgOutside a campaign event in New Hampshire this morning, Gov. Rick Perry stopped to chat with a 9-year-old boy whose mom, as the New York Times tells it, was feeding him questions for Perry about evolution and the earth’s origins:

“How old do I think the earth is?” Mr. Perry said. “You know what? I don’t have any idea. I know it’s pretty old, so it goes back a long, long way. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is.”

Ms. Bunce urged Sam to ask the governor about his views on evolution, and Mr. Perry began to answer her question, still talking to Sam.

“And here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know, it’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some [gaps] in it,” Mr. Perry continued. “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”

The only problem with that, of course, is that it’s not true.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that teaching creationism in public schools would be unconstitutional. Following a 2009 decision by the State Board of Education, Texas science teachers must encourage students to take a critical look at “all sides” of scientific theories like evolution.

As the Texas Independent has reported, that state-mandated ambivalence about a theory as widely accepted as evolution has drawn challenges over the years. Just last month, the SBOE opted not to approve supplemental science materials featuring intelligent design.

The watchdog group Texas Freedom Network has worked for years to oppose efforts to teach religious alternatives to evolution in public schools. Today, its president, Kathy Miller said in a statement that Perry’s remarks were “irresponsible” and could have dangerous consequences:

Gov. Perry has once again waded into the culture wars for political gain, but without considering the harmful consequences. It is irresponsible for the leader of a state, or a presidential hopeful, to suggest to public school teachers that it is OK to teach creationism as science when such attempts have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and could result in litigation against a school district.

ABC News has video of the exchange.

It was the second day in a row Perry’s been pressed on his beliefs about science — Wednesday he denied not only that humans have caused global climate change, but that the climate was changing at all.

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