The Texas Based Institute for Creation Research would offer an online degree in Science Education. Approved by a State Advisory Board yesterday, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will consider the degree in January.

Could this be why there has been a shakeup at the Texas Higher Education department?

The prospect of the ICR offering a degree is at the same time chilling and satisfying. Accroding to NCSE Director Eugenie Scott:

They teach distorted science … Any student coming out from the ICR with a degree in science would not be competent to teach in Texas public schools.

Well yes, Genie, that’s true, but also, we would KNOW they were incompetent. The first thing I want to know is this: Does Texas require, for accreditation, that graduates of a Master’s program are listed unambiguously in a publicly accessible archived database?

If so, then this degree is not such a bad idea. It labels the creationist teachers very clearly. It would be a clearing house. Public schools in America that have creationism as part of their curriculum (all zero of them) can hire the creationists teachers from Dallas, Texas. All the other schools (all 50,000 or so of them) can not hire the creationist “Masters.” In the mean time, there would be huge piles of money pouring into this graduate program. Money that would otherwise be used elsewhere, like for Anti-Evolution Billboards or Lawyers.

So individual fundamentalist Christians, instead of spending their money on mittens and warm hats for all those trips up north for invasions of reproductive rights clinics, will spend their money on the useless creationism degree. Either way, we hobble the right with an ineffective flow of resources.

The ICR program in Texas would probably include what looks to me like a class in maneuvering, or what I would call shenanigans. This from their web site:


Course: Curriculum design in science

“The school board has asked you to serve on a committee that is examining grades 6-12 science goals. … Both evolutionist and creationist teachers serve on the curriculum committee. How will you convince them to include creation science as well as evolution in the new scope and sequence?”

ICR has been producing graduates for some time and has a strong on-line program. This new degree seems bizarre, but it is really just more of that same old Texas Longhorn Bullshit. Just as Texas has ruled the world of schoolbooks for so long by consolidating the entire state into a single purchasing entity, then getting a good economy for a couple of decades so many people moved there, Texas has become, willingly and with gusto, one of the major battle grounds of creationism at all levels, from grade school to post graduate.

Texas is the new Kansas.

A six member team from the Texas education department has visited the school. Glenda Barrn, head of the visiting committee, claims that the school was held to the same standards as any other college. She claims that the only difference between this school and any other school offering a Master’s of science is the name of the school.

This makes me wonder about the accreditation system in Texas overall. Is this this the same standard to which Texas A&M is held? If so, I think other Texas schools need to be reexamined. This is why:

The six member team sent by the state to look at the ICR consisted of four people from religious institutions and two from public higher ed, and only one person with background in science or math, but that person did not have a real science background. So, when we hear “the only thing different about this school is the name” we know we are getting a dose of Texas Longhorn Bullshit.

[source]

Comments

  1. #1 mark
    December 15, 2007

    As a former member of a state licensing board, I appreciate the importance of having the state certify practitioners in a specialty field. You wouldn’t want teachers of Creationism not to be certified–how else would you know that a Creationism teacher was not full of silly, unscientific ideas? How would you keep out those who engage in unethical practices, such as quote mining?

  2. #2 Jeremy Mohn
    December 15, 2007

    “Texas is the new Kansas.”

    The flurry of recent events in Texas demonstrates a level of institutional support for creationism that is much more significant than anything we’ve ever had here in Kansas.

    I guess it’s true that everything is bigger in Texas.

  3. #3 Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet)
    December 15, 2007

    Don’t forget goalpost moving. That’s another unethical practice for which we should be on the lookout. Or arguing from lack of evidence (the so-called missing missing links (of course everytime a ‘misssing link’ is found, it creates to more gaps)), or arguing from ignorance (I don’t see how the eye could have evolved so god must have designed it).

    In high school, my biology teacher (freshman year) decided he did not want to teach evolution. What he said to the class was, “I am a biologist. I know Darwinism is a lie. So I will not teach it.” At least if the cretinists (sorry, creationists (must be polite, must be polite)) are labeled as such through their certification or master’s degree, It would certainly help. Of course, the class they teach would have to be moved from the science department to the philosophy department.

    Or maybe the English department where they can study mythology and fiction.

  4. #4 Elf Eye
    December 15, 2007

    As an English professor who teaches World Literature, I watch with amusement every time my students read Gilgamesh just prior to dipping into Genesis. They never fail to be perplexed by the fact that the flood narrative in Gilgamesh was composed long before the one in Genesis that incorporates so many of the same elements as the earlier one. They look back and forth between the time line and the accompanying map that shows that the ancestors of the Israelites lived in the region where Gilgamesh was composed. You can just see those (non-irreducibly complex) wheels in their head turning. They also read a translation of Genesis that preserves names such as Yahweh in places where many translations insert God. That helps ‘defamiliarize’ the text so that most of the students become able to apply the same rules of literary analysis to Genesis as they apply to the other readings in the course. Believe me, the last place a Creationist should want his religious texts to be taught is in a course where said texts will not be ‘privileged’.

  5. #5 Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet)
    December 15, 2007

    Elf Eye: Bravo. I had a history as literature course in college co-taught by a history professor and a world lit/classical lit professor. One of the students in the class got up and walked out when we began discussing the later books of the old testament because the history prof refered to the book as a ‘flawed history written in the days when histories were meant to glorify or excuse the status quo.’ Too bad he left. It was a good conversation. But I agree that a creationist would be very uncomfortable with the ‘holy bible’ being subject to the same criticism as other literature taught at the high school or college leve.

  6. #6 Jeb, FCD
    December 15, 2007

    I remember how shocked and awed I was as a freshman in college when I learned about the apocryphal, read Gilgamesh, and learned that every culture that grew up near a river had a Great Flood legend.

    After getting over my shock, I got pissed that I was lied to by the grown-ups, and especially the ones who said “Thou shalt not lie.”

    When I was leaving for college, I wondered why everyone in my baptist church said that people are going to try and change your mind about a lot of things. They said pray and I would be ok.

    Well, no one changed my mind. I changed my mind after learning facts. I think that is one reason I detest religion and religionists so much now. Brainwashing prats.

  7. #7 Skwee
    December 15, 2007

    This is just a hunch- I was thankfully not exposed to militant creationist teachers in school-but who here thinks there is a good chance that some high school teacher, somewhere, is clandestinely teaching creationism. I recall reading in Edward Humes’ “Monkey Girl” that there have been a few cases of teachers being fired after a student reported his or her teacher for teaching creationism. Anybody who has personal experience with something like this is welcome to share it.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    December 15, 2007

    Skwee! Something like one in three biology teachers are creationists. I know people who teach in schools where there are creationists, and they need to bee constantly vigilant. It is happening all the time!

  9. #9 Ex-drone
    December 17, 2007

    Sir Walter Scott:

    Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive.

    I attended an anti-evolution rant by the ICR once. It is amazing how much they have to contort science, history and factual evidence to create a framework out of creation, a young Earth, Eden and Noah’s ark. To get a consistent curriculum, the scientific and historical facts need to be very pliant, especially over time as contradictory evidence continues to be presented. I’m amazed they can keep all their lies straight.