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Teaching evolution in Texas schools approved

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KYTX -- New information on the debate over teaching evolution in Texas schools.

The state board has approved the teaching of supplemental high school science materials including comparing human and chimpanzee skulls and fossil records.

School districts do not have to follow the board's recommendation.

New supplemental science materials for Texas students are expected Thursday to re-ignite a long-standing debate among State Board of Education members over evolution and Charles Darwin's theories on the origin of life on earth. The science e-books were requested by the board because the state cannot afford new science textbooks this year even though new curriculum standards for science are going into effect. The materials - to be used with the old science books - will include the new standards approved by the board in 2009. They will be delivered electronically to schools this fall.

Board members will hold a public hearing on the proposed e-books Thursday before taking a preliminary vote on the materials they want to adopt. A final vote will occur on Friday. Although science materials for several grades are up for consideration, most of the debate is expected to center on high school biology books and their coverage of evolution. The board's social conservative bloc has been adamant that the e-books present both the evidence for and against key principles of Darwin - and a conservative think tank that has pushed for critical analysis of Darwin's theories is arguing that the e-books generally fail to cover all sides of the various issues.

Mainstream science education groups have been generally supportive of the e-books and are warning the board against watering down the coverage of common ancestry, natural selection and other key Darwin principles. School districts won't be required to purchase the materials adopted by the board, but most are expected to choose from the board's final list because its e-books will be deemed to best cover the state curriculum - the basis for questions on state achievement tests. One proposed e-book that included coverage of "intelligent design" as the possible source of life on earth was not recommended for adoption by state Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

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