The state of Texas yesterday (Thursday) denied a creation graduate school’s application to have its master's degree program approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), despite previous recommendations from a state education committee and a site-review team.

This is the second time in 18 years that a state’s top educational authority has attempted to thwart the Institute for Creation Research’s ability to offer state-approved master’s degrees.1 Such a setback for a school—which has several qualified PhD scientists on its faculty—merely confirms what the just-released film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has been exposing: academia will not tolerate any challenge to evolutionist orthodoxy and will suppress the liberties of Darwin-doubters.

ICR had been issuing master’s degrees in California from 1981 to 2007, where it once overcame (in 1990) a challenge from state educational officials (especially the state’s school chief), who at one point denied ICR approval to offer degrees. ICR eventually won approval in a federal court. Due to its recent move to Texas, ICR had to apply to the THECB for similar authorization to issue graduate degrees (in science education), and once again found itself running another educational gauntlet.

At first, things looked positive in Texas. Last year, the state sent a site team to tour ICR’s Dallas campus to evaluate the program. It recommended approval of the school’s on-line degree program in science education. Then late in the year, an advisory committee—which considered the site-team’s report—also suggested approval of the program and forwarded that recommendation to the state’s leading higher education official, Commissioner Raymund Paredes. In recent weeks, though, the tide began to turn. The Commissioner was publicly expressing reservations about ICR’s graduate program (and thus also the conclusions of the site team and committee). Then, the full board voted Thursday to reject ICR’s application.

ICR has argued that its quality faculty and rigorous program—presented in a creationist framework—equip students to become effective science teachers. Comm. Paredes has claimed that what ICR teaches is contrary to what is required in Texas’s public schools, and that because ICR’s program insists on accepting the biblical account of creation, it inadequately covers science. ICR counters with the observation that its students learn all about evolution, the scientific method, etc.—but that they are also exposed to the scientific problems with evolution.

ICR can appeal the board’s decision or reapply within 180 days. At the same time, a lawyer for ICR (according to the Dallas Morning News) has indicated that it may once again—as it did in California in 1990—be compelled to head to a federal court to defend and protect its academic freedom. (Because this is a First Amendment “free speech” issue, a federal court, not a local one, would be the jurisdiction for such a case.) In 1990, the California Department of Education decided not to approve the school’s degree program, which would have effectively closed the school. ICR, however, won that case in federal court.

In the long run, ICR hopes that if the board reverses course and approves its application (or should ICR win in the courts), it will then begin the process of getting accreditation from the regional Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Find out more about ICR and its graduate school at www.ICR.org—a press release about the Thursday vote of denial may be posted there later today.

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Footnotes

  1. ICR is currently only offering a master’s degree in science education. In California, it also had state approval to issue degrees in physics, geology, and biology. Back