AUSTIN, Texas –– Texas law bans the mention of evolution in textbooks, but that didn't stop policymakers from engaging in another hot debate about what Texas kids should be learning.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education held a public hearing on language to include in next year’s high school biology textbooks.
A long list of Texans signed up to testify and a crowd gathered outside the Capitol to speak up against creationism in Texas textbooks.
"What you have is folks appointed to the official review teams who have an ideological perspective and they're recommending debunked arguments,” said Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network.
Creationists argue evolution is just a theory. And all theories should be represented.
"Give me the facts. Why don't they give me the facts of evolution?,” asked Don McLeroy, a former chairman of the State Board, who supports teaching creationism.
The Texas textbook wars are not as intense as they were in 2009.
Back then, social conservatives had a near majority on the State Board, allowing them to open up a broader debate. They wanted lesson plans to include the possibility of alternate explanations for the origins life.
Four years later, hardliners have lost seats and likely influence over textbook publishers. Although, board members, like East Texan Thomas Ratliff, say creationism should be taught.
"So much of the heat is that it's an either/or discussion. And I don't think the vast majority of people out there think it's an either/or discussion,” Ratliff said.
The Supreme Court has ruled creationism can't be taught as fact. For now, it looks like the votes in Austin will back that up. A final vote comes in November.
Also Tuesday, about 200 other activists, many wearing green "Stand up For Science T-Shirts" and hoisting signs with slogans like "Your kids deserve the truth" and "Public schools, not Sunday schools," rallied prior to the meeting.
"We don't want to send our children into the information and technology age with a science education from the dark ages," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a progressive watchdog group.
Nearby, Mark Cadwallader, a 56-year-old chemical engineer from The Woodlands who testified against the proposed books, shook his head, saying: "The old evidence that used to be held up as proof of evolution, the ape man for instance, has been debunked."
"Textbooks ought to reflect the controversy surrounding evolution," he said. "Intelligent design and the complex design of the universe need to come into play. When you look, it's clear that we can see an intelligent designer at work."
The Associated Press contributed to this report