Jan 30, 2014

The biology curriculum used by a system of taxpayer-supported charter schools in Texas promotes creationism in violation of the U.S. Constitution, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a letter today to the Texas Education Agency’s Division of Charter School Administration, Americans United warned officials that Responsive Education Solutions must not be permitted to continue to aggressively undermine the theory of evolution while receiving public funds. Americans United told the agency to either prohibit the use of this curriculum or revoke Responsive Education Solutions’ charter. 

“The U.S. Supreme Court said more than 25 years ago that creationism is a religious dogma that cannot be promoted by public schools,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It amazes me that we are still fighting this battle in 2014, yet here we are.”                                                                                                  

Americans United attorneys explained that Responsive Education Solutions’ science curriculum repeatedly attacks evolution.  For example, the curriculum teaches students that evolution is “an unproved theory” which “has reached the level of dogma,” and that there are “holes” in the theory.  The curriculum also presents as fact common false assertions creationists employ in trying to discredit evolution. 

At the same time, the curriculum tells students that “intelligent design or creationism” are “other theories on the origins of life.” The curriculum repeatedly refers to supernatural creation as an alternative to evolution.

In other words, the curriculum attempts to lead students toward belief in creationism by first convincing them that evolution is false and then pointing to creationism as the other option.

Americans United’s letter, signed by AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan, Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser and Staff Attorney Ian Smith, explains that “the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower federal courts have consistently and unequivocally held that religious views on the origins of life, such as creationism, ‘creation science,’ and ‘intelligent design,’ cannot lawfully be advanced in the public schools as alternatives to the scientific theory of evolution.”  

The AU letter requests a response within 30 days. AU plans to send a similar letter to the Arkansas Department of Education, as Responsive Education Solutions also operates two charter schools in Arkansas.