The San Angelo Standard Times yesterday published the Texas gubernatorial candidates’ responses to questions about K-12 education. Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger, Mayor Bill White of Houston, answered a wide range questions, some of which probed their views on evolution versus “intelligent design” creationism and the State Board of Education’s controversial changes to the state’s curriculum standards.
Each candidate was asked to explain his stance “on evolution-creationism being taught in [public] school.” Governor Perry fully endorsed introducing intelligent design creationism into the science classroom:
I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution. The State Board of Education has been charged with the task of adopting curriculum requirements for Texas public schools and recently adopted guidelines that call for the examination of all sides of a scientific theory, which will encourage critical thinking in our students, an essential learning skill.
Mr. White declined to state his views, instead noting that “[e]ducators and local school officials, not the governor, should determine science curriculum.”
The candidates were also asked to explain their views regarding the State Board of Education’s overhaul of the Texan school curriculum and textbook standards, which will impact schools nationwide. In response to the question, “Do you think the role of the State Board of Education should be revised given the recent controversy over curriculum and textbook selection?” Governor Perry stated his view that Texas has the “right system in place” for determining Texas’ curriculum:
The State Board of Education is an independently elected body that is charged with developing college- and career-ready curriculum standards for our state. As elected officials, they are accountable to their constituents for implementing curriculum standards that will ensure the best education possible for our state. I have repeatedly stated that the curriculum adopted by the SBOE should be rigorous, grade-level specific, and contain college- and career-ready standards, and I believe we have the right system in place to determine our school curriculum.
Mayor White, on the other hand, appeared to distance himself from the State Board’s actions, stating his belief that “educators and subject matter experts should make curriculum decisions.”