A battle is brewing in Texas that could change the nation's science textbooks and the way evolution is taught in school.
The State Board of Education is now conducting a formal review of standards it uses in its science curriculum after the board voted in January to drop a 20-year-old mandate that science teachers address both "strengths and weaknesses" of the theory of evolution.
That mandate was a compromise between religious conservatives who question evolution and scientists who embrace it. Federal courts have ruled against forcing the teaching of creationism and the similar theory of intelligent design.
The reversal of the mandate prompted the education board's Republican chairman, Don McLeroy, to tack on an amendment to the preliminary draft, essentially restoring the requirement.
"I have a problem with those who say there's no weaknesses to evolution," McLeroy told FOX News.
Kathy Miller, president of the watchdog group Texas Freedom Network, has argued that the word weaknesses "has become a code word in the culture wars to attack evolution and promote creationism."
The final vote on the new standards will come later this month.
"Anything can happen in the final vote," said Miller. "The board can vote to go back to the old standards with strengths and weaknesses in them. The board can vote to eliminate the amendments that Chairman McLeroy forced into the curriculum standards. Virtually any change can be made."
The significance of the Texas ruling could impact textbooks nationwide.
Since Texas is the second largest consumer of textbooks in the U.S., publishers often create a book that meets Texas standards and then sell the same version to school districts across the country.
Any standards the board adopts when it votes on the new science standards at the end of March won't impact textbooks until 2012.
McLeroy said he hopes to see the original language restored in the final vote.
"I want to see the United States keep its scientific edge," he said. "And I think the way you do that is by being honest with the kids, you teach them the science, you show them the weaknesses and strengths."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.