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AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Board of Education is hearing arguments over changing state science curriculums that critics say are designed to challenge the theory of evolution and leave students wondering whether a higher power created the universe.

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After Tuesday’s public hearing, the board will hold preliminary votes later this week on whether to alter classroom standards in place since 2009. Texas is a large textbook market, so what it teaches can influence content nationwide.

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A committee of science teachers and academics wants the Republican-controlled board to scrap requiring high school students to consider “all sides” of scientific theories such as evolution. Those opposing the standards say they let religious ideology take precedence over science.

Supporters counter that the curriculum encourages critical thinking. It’s endured despite past federal court rulings opposing teaching creationism.

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