Pharyngula

Prepare for an ugly battle in Texas

The Texas Board of Education has named the six people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. Texas, you’ve got trouble. The people are:

  • David Hillis, professor of integrative biology and director of the Center of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin;

  • Ronald K. Wetherington, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence;

  • Gerald Skoog, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Texas Tech and co-director of the Center for Integration of Science Education and Research;

  • Stephen Meyer, vice-frakkin’-president of the odious Discovery Institute in Washington state;

  • Ralph Seelke, a pro-ID creationist and biologist from Wisconsin;

  • Charles Garner, a chemist from Baylor who is also a pro-ID creationist.

Note that Meyer and Seelke are co-authors of that ghastly new ID textbook, Explore Evolution, and would no doubt love to tweak the curriculum to make their book marketable in Texas. Conflict of interest? Nah.

So, three good guys and three ignorant ideologues, with the overall head of the board of education being Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. It’s going to get ugly.

Comments

  1. #1 Leigh Shryock
    October 15, 2008

    Ugly battle, indeed.

    I guess that, if nothing else, there’s always the court system… and a nice set of precedents.

  2. #2 LotharLoo
    October 15, 2008

    This is pathetic. Obviously, they tried to strike the balance in the “controversy”. Why don’t they appoint a committee three normal scientists and three flat-earth loons to pick the geography and physics curriculum.

  3. #3 Badjuggler
    October 15, 2008

    Looks like they need to buy bigger cowboy hats down there. Cutting off the blood supply to the brain.

  4. #4 Michelle
    October 15, 2008

    There’ll be blood, and I’m not sure who will come out alive.

    Texas, please try harder. You’re not really helping us outgrow the “texas is full of religious zealot rednecks” stereotype.

  5. #5 imat
    October 15, 2008

    Sigh. It is time to move.

  6. #6 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    three ignorant ideologues

    I don’t understand why 3 people who want to destroy science education were selected to review science standards. Oh wait. This is an idiot state in an idiot country. Now I understand.

    What Texas needs now is some very serious and very relentless ridicule. The only reason Florida, where I live, now has the best public school science standards in the country, was because of constant ridicule of our moron politicians.

  7. #7 Quiet Desperation
    October 15, 2008

    They *so* have to cage match this. Then the winning side can move on to battle the tag team of Chris Jericho and Beth Phoenix in the Smackdown final. And, um, NASCAR, or something.

  8. #8 Bill Dauphin
    October 15, 2008

    Sigh. It is time to move.

    No! It’s time to stay and fight! I’m sure you know this, but because of its sheer size, Texas has huge influence over what textbooks get published… and therefore affects curricula far outside its own borders. So you can’t really escape the lunacy… and you owe it to the rest of us to fight it.

    I’d invoke the sacred memory of the Alamo, but eventual outcome there isn’t really all that great for motivating folks to fight. [sigh]

  9. #9 Epinephrine
    October 15, 2008

    Why aren’t there an equal number of Pastafarian scientists too? Surely their views need to be represented.

  10. #10 wazza
    October 15, 2008

    Am I the only one who’s going to be reading PZ’s coverage of this with a box of popcorn on one side, a soft drink the size of my head on the other, pounding the desk and chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”?

  11. #11 LotharLoo
    October 15, 2008

    Excerpt from the review of Explore Evolution:

    That said, Discovery faces at least one very significant challenge in its anti-evolution campaign: evolution is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community because the evidence for it is extensive and comprehensive. Taking on that evidence runs the risk of simply emphasizing its significance, so EE maneuvers its way around this roadblock by using (and abusing) an approach to teaching called inquiry-based learning (IBL).

    Wow. This is amazing. I never thought about this part of their strategy.

  12. #12 Randy
    October 15, 2008

    I say we just give up and believe whatever makes us feel good at the moment. Just, you know, whatever flight of fancy takes us. Hell, why even bother with teachers? That tax money could be better used tithing to buy Gawd a new jaccuzi.

  13. #13 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    I remember reading somewhere that about half of the public high schools in Texas do not teach evolution at all. I’m not sure what the reason is, but I would bet incompetent biology teachers and/or harassment from Christian thugs has something to do with it.

  14. #14 tsg
    October 15, 2008

    No! It’s time to stay and fight! I’m sure you know this, but because of its sheer size, Texas has huge influence over what textbooks get published… and therefore affects curricula far outside its own borders. So you can’t really escape the lunacy… and you owe it to the rest of us to fight it.

    The other side of that is fewer people = fewer children in the schools = fewer textbooks purchased = less influence over what textbooks get published.

    Not that I’m advocating a mass evacuation of the state…

  15. #15 scooter
    October 15, 2008

    Yup, I am gathering an arsenal as we type.

    Last might TFN sponsored a viewing of Kansas vs Darwin, available on DVD, I recommend it.

    I met with Jeff Tamblyn and am trying to get him on air tomorrow evening as an opening salvo.

    I am having a bit of difficulty obtaining contact info from people in ‘the movement’ does anybody keep track of people? An ad hoc communications person? It’s a very important position for pushing agendas.

    If anybody has a suggestion for a good speaker in the area of on the never-ending scopes trial subject, feel free to contact me at http://acksisofevil.org/contact.html

    I’d love to get Mathew Chapman if anybody knows how to get a hold of him.

    Shameless plugging of books on air is encouraged.

  16. #16 the petey
    October 15, 2008

    I don’t get why NON-texas residents are on the review board.

  17. #17 Bunk
    October 15, 2008

    Whew, I’m glad I live in Alabama.

  18. #18 Zeno
    October 15, 2008

    Does Texas have a secessionist party like Alaska’s? If so, where could I sent them a contribution?

    Oh. I took a moment with Google and found the Texas Nationalist Organization. Apparently they want to take chunks of New Mexico and Colorado with them. Even their secessionists are loons!

  19. #19 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    I don’t live in Texas (thank goodness for that) and I’m not a scientist, so I can’t sign this statement.

    Scientists for a Responsible Curriculum in Texas Public Schools

    A strong science curriculum is an essential part of a 21st-century education and should be based on established peer-reviewed empirical research. In 2008-09 the State Board of Education is revising the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards for the sciences.

    Scientifically sound curriculum standards must:

    ? acknowledge that instruction on evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences;

    ? make clear that evolution is an easily observable phenomenon that has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt;

    ? be based on the latest, peer-reviewed scholarship;

    ? encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to “strengths and weaknesses,” which politicians have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses; and

    ? recognize that all students are best served when matters of faith are left to families and houses of worship.

    We, therefore, call on the Texas State Board of Education to approve science curriculum standards that prepare Texas students to succeed in the 21st century.

    I would have added to this statement that all students are best served when they are not brainwashed by their god-soaked parents and preachers. Even if Texas gets science standards as excellent as Florida’s, they will still have the same problem Florida has – too many incompetent creationist biology teachers and too many brainwashed students who have lost the ability to learn anything.

  20. #20 Greg Esres
    October 15, 2008

    Don McLeroy

    Isn’t there any push to get this guy removed? As long as he’s there, this stuff will keep coming up.

  21. #21 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    Whew, I’m glad I live in Alabama.

    Most funny comment I read this week.

  22. #22 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    October 15, 2008

    Living in Alabama may not save you. Conventional wisdom is that the books written for Texas schools influence the text books distributed for the Yankee 49. If ever the time has come for open sourcing of school texts were necessary to save US education, this looks to be it.

  23. #23 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    Don McLeroy

    Isn’t there any push to get this guy removed? As long as he’s there, this stuff will keep coming up.

    If I remember correctly Don McLeroy was appointed by the creationist governor of Texas, who of course is a Republican. Perhaps it’s fair to say Texas has this problem because that’s what the voters wanted.

  24. #24 Richard
    October 15, 2008

    I just vomited in my mouth.

    My poor kids.

    They allready have to listen to prayers before school and sports. Now they will have to suffer through this nonsense.

    I gotta get out of this state.

  25. #25 scooter
    October 15, 2008

    :::::::::::::PLEASE FORWARD :::::::::::::::::::

    I have a 10 yr old, and a 14 yr old currently shambling through the public school system in TX.

    I am announcing that I am available and perfectly poised to sue the minute the school board makes their move, so if anybody knows where I can lawyer up with legal veterans of school board demolitions, have them contact me
    http://acksisofevil.org/contact.html

    Probably a good idea to start assembling a strategy ahead of time.

    I’ll supply the propaganda machine.

    Besides myself and KPFT….

    …….. Amy Goodman from DN, and Denis Moynihan, Executive Director of Free Speech TV are old friends of mine, as well as many others throughout Public and Community Radio.

    Please forward this message wherever it might do some good.

    THANKS,
    Scooter

    KPFT Houston
    http://acksispofevil.org

    < <<< The Texas Board of Education has named the six people who will be on a committee to review science curriculum standards. Texas, you've got trouble. The people are:

    *David Hillis, professor of integrative biology and director of the Center of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin;

    *Ronald K. Wetherington, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence;

    *Gerald Skoog, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Texas Tech and co-director of the Center for Integration of Science Education and Research;

    *Stephen Meyer, vice-frakkin'-president of the odious Discovery Institute in Washington state;

    *Ralph Seelke, a pro-ID creationist and biologist from Wisconsin;

    *Charles Garner, a chemist from Baylor who is also a pro-ID creationist.

    Note that Meyer and Seelke are co-authors of that ghastly new ID textbook, Explore Evolution, and would no doubt love to tweak the curriculum to make their book marketable in Texas. Conflict of interest? Nah. >>>>

  26. #26 Sven DiMilo
    October 15, 2008

    I feel for Dave Hillis.

  27. #27 Glen Davidson
    October 15, 2008

    Eesh, it’s already hard to look.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  28. #28 J Myers
    October 15, 2008

    I’d invoke the sacred memory of the Alamo, but eventual outcome there isn’t really all that great for motivating folks to fight.

    It would solve the problem though, no?

  29. #29 sotonohito
    October 15, 2008

    It isn’t going to be an ugly fight at all. Its going to be a steady stream of 4-3 votes with the Creationist wackjobs using the presence of the minority of non-loons as a shield for the really terrible standards they will be publishing.

    The good guys lost the moment the composition of the board was declared. The fight is over, they won already people.

  30. #30 Christopher Letzelter
    October 15, 2008

    Why is it the 3 cdesign proponentsists aren’t from Texas, or at least employed in Texas? You’d think it would make sense for all six members of the committee to be Texas residents – does this call the legality of the committee into question? Just curious.

  31. #31 MLE
    October 15, 2008

    What, no physicists? They do still teach physics, right?
    And does anyone else get the sense that this is explicitly set up to manufacture controversy (see, its real!), pay lip service to a evolution/creation/ID debate, but use a pro-ID majority to ultimately get exactly what they want?

  32. #32 Erica
    October 15, 2008

    @ 25
    I forward your comment to a friend. She’s in Arkansas, but she *might* know someone who knows someone. I’ll pray for you *smirk*

  33. #33 kmeson
    October 15, 2008

    I can vouch for David Hillis. He gave a fine talk at Darwin day last year and recommended excellent people for this year and next. Also he will get the support of Tx Citizens for Science. Anyone outside of TX with extra dough (you have been selling short right) TCS is a good group of folks lined up firmly against this nonsense.

  34. #34 Celtic_Evolution
    October 15, 2008

    It was pointed out above already, but they can try this tactic of an obvious ploy to appear like a fair committee is being formed when it is in fact an unbalanced, biased committee… and they will likely get a pro-ID curriculum passed, which will then be legally challenged successfully because strong precedent already exists.

  35. #35 tsg
    October 15, 2008

    Taking on that evidence runs the risk of simply emphasizing its significance, so EE maneuvers its way around this roadblock by using (and abusing) an approach to teaching called inquiry-based learning (IBL).

    This is like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists’ strategy of “just asking questions[1]“, right?

    [1] and assuming the answer is whatever they want it to be.

  36. #36 Befuddled
    October 15, 2008

    Dr. Garner especially is unaware of the issues and has an obvious bias with no regard for the facts. He’s an avid subscriber to “Acts & Facts”. He’s been involved in far right wing Baptist churches for over 30 years now. At Baylor he’s had a lackluster publishing record and has actively promoted creationism and anti-evolution in his Organic Chemistry lectures.

  37. #37 Dutch Delight
    October 15, 2008

    This is an outrage, the board is completely stacked against pastafarians, this is pure fear from the establishment!!1!one

    Even evolutionists and ID’ers of all people are joining hands and standing together in their desperate attempts to block the truth from being discussed!

  38. #38 Rodrigo Neely
    October 15, 2008

    I am proud to say that I have seen Dr. Skoog speak on the importance of teaching evolution at Texas Tech.

    I don’t want to say that this post is not alarming, but I can say from experience that Dr. Skoog is not just one of the good-guys he’s an assertive and active one.

  39. #39 Bill Dauphin
    October 15, 2008

    The other side of [people fleeing Texas over this] is fewer people = fewer children in the schools = fewer textbooks purchased = less influence over what textbooks get published.

    I’m afraid I’m skeptical of the chances Texas would depopulate itself sufficiently to no longer be the 800 lb gorilla of the textbook biz. Worse yet, since it would be rational, thinking people leaving, the net effect would be to distill the stupid to vastly higher levels of purity.

    I’d invoke the sacred memory of the Alamo, but eventual outcome there isn’t really all that great for motivating folks to fight.

    It would solve the problem though, no?

    Not really, no: The key fact about the Alamo is that (from the POV of the people who love the story) all the good guys died! (See above comment about distillation of stupid.)

    It’s always been a mystery to me that “Remember the Alamo!” was ever used as a rallying cry. The heroes of the Alamo were no doubt paragons of courage, but as for motivating me to rush into battle, I much prefer a quotation from Patton:

    “Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country; he won it by making the other poor dumb son-of-a-bitch die for his country!”

  40. #40 tsg
    October 15, 2008

    I’m afraid I’m skeptical of the chances Texas would depopulate itself sufficiently to no longer be the 800 lb gorilla of the textbook biz. Worse yet, since it would be rational, thinking people leaving, the net effect would be to distill the stupid to vastly higher levels of purity.

    That’s the beauty of it. The more concentrated the stupid becomes, the more the rational will want to leave while attracting the stupid from the rest of the country. At some point, we can fence it in and get on with our lives.

  41. #41 CalGeorge
    October 15, 2008

    Here is McLeroy taking at length about evolution:

    http://www.grace-bible.org/downloads/sermons/Intelligent_Design/DM05404_Intelligent_Design_Theory_Primer.mp3

    “We are all biblical literalists. We all believe the Bible to be inerrant.”

    He should stick to filling cavities and scraping plaque.

  42. #42 tsg
    October 15, 2008

    It’s always been a mystery to me that “Remember the Alamo!” was ever used as a rallying cry. The heroes of the Alamo were no doubt paragons of courage, but as for motivating me to rush into battle, I much prefer a quotation from Patton:

    I think it had more to do with taking revenge for everyone that died at the Alamo.

  43. #43 Sigmund
    October 15, 2008

    A 4-3 creationist majority makes it impossible that the pro-science side can win on this one.
    It doesn’t, however, mean that there isn’t a logical way to engineer the situation such that the creationists lose.
    We can all be assured that Meyer and company will stick to a wording that is non-religious so as not to invoke the establishment clause.
    If they are going to be so dishonest and conniving with this matter then I suggest the pro-science side brings the real motivations into the open by voting WITH the creationists and at the same time publicly stating they are doing so for sectarian religious reasons.
    Only protestant young earth creationism – King James version, should be good enough for the young students of Texas (and the Lemon test!).
    The very last thing the creationists on this committee want is to have members of the committee publicly stating Bill Buckingham type positions that fall foul of the law.
    And it’s the very least they deserve.

  44. #44 ming the merciless
    October 15, 2008

    Hey, buck up! This may be the kick in the pants that the open-source textbook industry has been waiting for. And what responsible parents ever entrusted their kids’ actual education to the public schools? That’s what parents are for, you goofballs! You send them to public school to show them what they’ll be up against for the rest of their lives. And to learn to function within it.

    C’mon, you Texans. This presents so many wonderful opportunities.

    Create internet tools and invite anti-evolutionist high school seniors and teachers to comment on their beliefs, using their real names. (You’ll have to do a little work authenticating.) That way when their future employers and college admissions officers see they can’t understand basic science, they’ll know either to reward them (as creationists themselves) or revile them (as idiots). This could be a powerful weapon in outing the mental unterclass for what it is. And also a good tool for future research of all sorts.

    ming

  45. #45 stogoe
    October 15, 2008

    #29,
    I agree. Giving up and wallowing in your own self-pity is the best way to affect positive change in our country. Hell, it worked for…

  46. #46 Lago
    October 15, 2008

    Mister Whiskers, please call the meeting to order!

    What is on the roster for tonight, Long Tail?

    It seems we need to figure out what is to be done about the local, “Cheese,” situation, sir. They would like to have it protected, as it seems some in the community might take it and “eat it,” without regards for anyone else.

    That does seem to be a problem, any idea on what to do?

    I have one!

    Go ahead, Mickey!

    I say we gather it all together ourselves, and,.,,maybe we eat it?

    What a clever idea Mickey… All in favor? …Show of paws?

    And the paws have it. We will “eat” the cheese ourselves ridding the town of their cheese problem.

    Meeting adjured

  47. #47 386sx
    October 15, 2008

    Here is McLeroy taking at length about evolution:

    http://www.grace-bible.org/downloads/sermons/Intelligent_Design/DM05404_Intelligent_Design_Theory_Primer.mp3

    Thanks. Now I think I finally know what “Darwinism” means. Darwinism: we ain’t come from no stinkin monkeys.

  48. #48 Karl
    October 15, 2008

    Time for the Pastafarians to get engaged and do what they did in Kansas. FSM to the rescue!!!

  49. #49 CalGeorge
    October 15, 2008

    More on McLeroy:
    “In March the board debated creating a book list of more than 150 literary works that would be recommended for the classroom. After some critics noted the small number of works by authors from different cultures, McLeroy told the San Antonio Express-News, “You really don’t want Chinese books with a bunch of crazy Chinese words in them. Why should you take a child’s time trying to learn a word that they’ll never ever use again?” Which of the following Chinese words or phrases did McLeroy admit could be useful for a child to learn?”

    http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100018248&docId=l:853970613&start=6

    The article contains a cool quiz:

    HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION?;
    A Quiz

    Here’s one of the questions:

    7. In a letter to the governor in May, board member Mary Helen Berlanga asked that he replace McLeroy, a dentist, whom she called what?

    A. A master of deceit.

    B. Criminally insane.

    C. Dr. Crazy pants.

    D. A walking root canal.

  50. #50 Bill Dauphin
    October 15, 2008

    I think it had more to do with taking revenge for everyone that died at the Alamo.

    Yah, I get that. But it’s inherently impossible to demand that revenge without also reminding your audience of the potential for obliteration.

    I keep thinking of the constables in Pirates of Penzance who, mindful of the risk to their own hides, sing loundly about how eager they are to go out and do battle with the pirates, but seem reluctant to actually go. ;^)

  51. #51 tsg
    October 15, 2008

    Yah, I get that. But it’s inherently impossible to demand that revenge without also reminding your audience of the potential for obliteration.

    It’s an attempt at motivation, with some “we’ll win because we’re right” on the side. I didn’t say it was rational.

    I keep thinking of the constables in Pirates of Penzance who, mindful of the risk to their own hides, sing loundly about how eager they are to go out and do battle with the pirates, but seem reluctant to actually go. ;^)

    Like the two guys in a bar fight struggling to get free from the people holding them back, although not too hard in case they actually do.

    But, yeah. The people most likely to say what an honor it would be to die for your country always seem to be the least likely to do so.

  52. #52 Patricia
    October 15, 2008

    Scooter, If you want to sue the bastards FFRF – Freedom From Religion Foundation is the very place to start. Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor have the know how and the lawyers to help you. They do radio shows too. ffrf.org

  53. #53 J Maish
    October 15, 2008

    I’m leaving, this is too much. I send my kids to religious school so that they can learn and interpret our culture and religion (Liberal Jew). I take them to the theatre for fairytales. I send them to public school for facts.

  54. #54 SC
    October 15, 2008

    I’m dumbfounded.

    Isn’t this the same guy who pulled all kinds of nonsense before a meeting a while back, sneaking changes in at the last minute and not allowing time for review or open debate? I remember asking then if Texas had any rules for how these things have to be done at all.

    Now they have a committee with two members from out of state who on top of everything else have a direct financial interest in the outcome of the review. How is this even possible?

  55. #55 Charlie Rodriguez
    October 15, 2008

    I am not happy to be a Texan right now.I finally got around to reading the ‘wedge document and didn’t get past the intro…I couldn’t stand having that much illogic thrown in my face with out my blood pressure going ballistic. Will it never end. What the heck!! Are they going to put an astrologer on the board also so that they can criticize the strength and weaknesses in the theory of astronomy, What’s next…maybe we can just make pi = 3 and clam that computers are “magic ” boxes that have angels inside. I am getting tired of so-called evolutionary experts who think that dinosaurs walked with man and ate palm trees because “they had no sin.” And still they walk and talk and live as the majority amongst us rational people. Its just sad…

  56. #56 caerbannog
    October 15, 2008

    In the past, the University of Texas had done a pretty good job poaching talent from California universities. These latest developments might give California an opportunity to take some of its scientists back!

  57. #57 dc
    October 15, 2008

    TFN, Texas Citizens for Science, and anyone else on the side of decent science education needs a huge paradigm shift. This is not a science issue or a science debate nor is the discussion about science standards. It’s all politics and much of that politics is based on a conservative religious worldview that is inherently irrational. Rational arguments (science) will fail against irrational beliefs every time. The academic freedom bill failed here in Florida because the two legislative houses couldn’t agree on the language, not because of anything the science side did. It was, in the words of one of our DOE officials, a process governed by ideology, not rational thought. Our standards squeaked by because some last minute feints that appeared to weaken the evolution section but really did little harm pacified the opposition.
    What Scooter and the rest of the pro-science people in Texas need to focus on is the economy (Bad science education can scare off high tech industry. Get business leaders involved.), the lawsuits (Bring the ACLU and Americans United on board early.), the humiliation (Pastafarians of the world, chime in!) and the limited acceptance of this brand of radical religion (Science friendly clergy helped a lot in Florida.). NCSE was extraordinarily helpful. The religious right will mobilize early and loudly and any effective counter will have to give the politicians cover. Nonelected officials like the review panel must understand the repercussions of any decision to weaken the standards or introduce pseudoscience into them. Allowing pseudoscience in general opens the door to all kinds of fringe groups that they probably don’t want in the public schools. It also would allow teachers like me to devote enough time to ID to rip it to shreds.
    In the long term, I am afraid I agree with an earlier post that final resolution will have to come in the courts but the groundwork for the court challenges will be laid down in the next few months. Good luck.

  58. #58 Tulse
    October 15, 2008

    Damn those Mexicans for killing all the foreigners and mercenaries who were trying to steal part of their country!

    “Remember the greedy dead land thieves!”

    (…says the former Texan)

  59. #59 James F
    October 15, 2008

    Stephen Meyer and Ralph Seelke aren’t even based in Texas! More to the point, Stephen Meyer was party to violation of editorial practices, i.e., academic misconduct, and should be called out as such. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Are there any candidates with any sort of pull on this situation to whom I might send some money?

  60. #60 J Myers
    October 15, 2008

    …all the good guys died!

    Well… all the Americans died. Which is I why I think an Alamo-like approach, implemented statewide, would undoubtedly solve the issue of loony creationists meddling with Texas science standards (or anything else).

    What’s the Mexican military up to these days?

  61. #61 Bort
    October 15, 2008

    Along with the non-Texans on the panel, two of the Texas state board of education members home-schooled their kids!

  62. #62 Kel
    October 15, 2008

    Why do creationists think that suddenly teaching their religion in schools will validate the theory?

  63. #63 Keith
    October 15, 2008

    I live in Texas, but I’ll be taking eighteen hours of classes and working full time until May 2009. I guess I just need to know which organizations to give my money to :-/

  64. #64 phantomreader42
    October 15, 2008

    Kel @ #62:

    Why do creationists think that suddenly teaching their religion in schools will validate the theory?

    They don’t care about validating the theory. They’ve never given a flying fuck about the truth. All they want is a chance to spend other people’s money to brainwash other people’s children into their cult. It’s all about control and child abuse.

  65. #65 John Kingman
    October 15, 2008

    There is some hope.

    The whole curriculum review process in Texas is a crock. As we have seen in the recent past, the far-right faction of the SBOE will do whatever it wants anyway. McLeroy and his cronies will probably pull another ninth inning stunt like they did with the English standards, but the hope is that there may be at least 8 votes for 21st century science. This is especially true if two of the current far-right board members (Bradley and Lowe) are defeated in November.

    Laura Ewing is running against David Bradley and Dr. Edra Bogle is running against Gail Lowe. Show them some love.

  66. #66 Bort
    October 15, 2008

    Keith (#63)

    Give your money to Texas Citizens for Science

  67. #67 Banjamin Allen
    October 15, 2008

    On the plus side, I am now a registered voter in Texas, isn’t having a kickass biology Ph.D program in a shitty state grand?

  68. #68 Ed Darrell
    October 15, 2008

    When did Nelson and Seelke move to Texas?

  69. #69 scooter
    October 15, 2008

    We need to pinpoint where these creationist interluders are from. One of the most powerful arguments in TX is:

    How dare these goddam yankees come down here and tell us how to run our_____________ . And then say the word ‘carpetbagger’ twice a minute.

    Everything north of Oklahoma is considered yankee in TX.

    Tulse @ 58 : Damn those Mexicans for killing all the foreigners and mercenaries who were trying to steal part of their country!

    To open it up for slavery, they omit that from early education TX history texts.

    ————————-

  70. #70 BobC
    October 15, 2008

    I’ve been listening to the audio of McLeroy provided by CalGeorge in #41. Wow, what a wacko and he’s the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Texas has to get rid of this person. What a disaster to have an idiot with the power to destroy the science education of thousands of students.

  71. #71 Charlie Foxtrot
    October 15, 2008

    Uh, hi. Australia here. Hey, if you’re finished with your intelligent people, can we have them? We got plenty more room down here.

  72. #72 scooter
    October 15, 2008

    Thanks Patricia @ 52

    you rock, I’ll write them tonight or tomorrow, better have a family meeting first, huh

  73. #73 Peter
    October 15, 2008

    The article contains a cool quiz:

    HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION?;

    The copy of this article at LexisNexis is missing the answers to the quiz.

    I tracked down the original at Texas Monthly, it’s here:

    http://www.texasmonthly.com/2008-10-01/feature5-1.php

  74. #74 Kel
    October 15, 2008

    Uh, hi. Australia here. Hey, if you’re finished with your intelligent people, can we have them? We got plenty more room down here.

    Yeah, we could use them. At the moment we rely too much on other countries being the innovator; we just like to think we do something that contributes to the world, but apart from flight, scuba gear and the rotary lawnmower, we’ve done jack-all. Instead we just rely on mining and tourism to feed our economy.

    I propose an exchange system, we give you the other Kenhamites who live in the cultural backwater, and in return you give us those intelligent people who will appreciate this fine land and work to make our culture more than an alcoholic’s wet dream.

  75. #75 Heraclides
    October 15, 2008

    Is it just me, but does this “balance” leave the head of the board in a position to throw casting votes?

    (Haven’t read far into the comments, yet, so excuse me if this has already been covered.)

  76. #76 UTKid
    October 15, 2008

    ” I don’t understand why 3 people who want to destroy science education were selected to review science standards. Oh wait. This is an idiot state in an idiot country. Now I understand.”

    I am a biochemistry student at UT and trust me when I say that not everyone in Texas is stupid, but there are many. There is a concerted effort among the science community to get biology taught correctly in our high schools, of which I am a part. Instead of criticizing Texas why don’t you offer some constructive help for the people who are actually trying to get good standards. They are right when they say that standards in Texas can affect the entire country. Stop bitching and get involved. We could use all the help we could get.

  77. #77 scooter
    October 15, 2008

    ::::::: TEXAS vs DARWIN, Counter-Attack # 1 ::::::

    Jeff Tamblyn confirmed for tomorrow night Thurs 10pm Central.

    Jeff Tamblyn is the producer of the documentary Kansas vs Darwin

    A good place to start, the birth of FSM, first big Scopes revisited, and I believe the first appearance of ID on the national stage.

    Unfortunately, we’re in fund drive so no phone calls, but plenty of opportunities in the future as this will undoubtedly be the main topic of my program, and in conjunction with Staci’s program, for quite some time.

    Yall can call in and pledge a few bucks, if you want.

    Listen @ http://stream.kpft.org/streamkpft.m3u

  78. #78 Patricia
    October 16, 2008

    Scooter – Freedom from Religion Foundation is my choice of organizations. I don’t know what else to say.

  79. #79 Robert Byers
    October 16, 2008

    As the singers sing GOD BLESS TEXAS
    Its already a gain and victory to see a little more intellectual representitive board here of Texas or Americans. The times they are achanging.
    Success in a large state like texas will make it easy for most of the country and fair for the rest.
    They should have more biblical creationists but a foot in the door will evolve into a whole body.
    teaching the truth in science classes in Texas will aid in bringing down evolution and interest more kids in the subjects and process of true science. they will see its not that difficult and complicated but instead learn to ignore the claims of only some people can do it. The error of evolution is case in point of how science can be abused by mere studious people getting a degree on the wall.
    it seems constantly creationism makes another aggresive attack against the present censorship and state control of ideas.
    its just a matter of time before all wals come tumbling down like at old jericho.
    From Canada

  80. #80 Ichthyic
    October 16, 2008

    teaching the truth in science classes in Texas will aid in bringing down evolution and interest more kids in the subjects and process of true science.

    ah yes, true science…

    like true xianity, right, Byers?

    It’s like watching my dog demand equal time for drooling on the carpet.

  81. #81 Kel
    October 16, 2008

    teaching the truth in science classes in Texas will aid in bringing down evolution and interest more kids in the subjects and process of true science.

    True science? They already have evolution in there. Don’t you mean “true dogma”? Be honest rather than just another Liar for Jesus?. I know Jesus is forgiving (except if you talk bad about the holy spirit), but here in reality we don’t like liars.

  82. #82 Badger3k
    October 16, 2008

    “God Bless Texas” – ahh, the lovely song used to sell automobiles and beer. I guess He did Bless Texas – he took Bush away to F’ up the entire country, then gave us Jeebus-loving Idiot in Command Perry, and a nice little Hurricane to put the Fear of Him into people. Some “blessing” – precisely what we can do without. I knew the standards that were suggested would get shanked in the yard, but being so blatant as to appoint those crackpots and whackjobs….wow – McElroy has balls bigger than brains (ok, so that was a low standard, but still…)

  83. #83 Peter Ashby
    October 16, 2008

    ….That old lie:
    Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

  84. #84 Luger Otter Robinson
    October 16, 2008

    As an Australian, I must say that I was pleased to listen to Don McElroy talk. I’d thought that Ken Ham was the most ignorant fuckwit around, but I was wrong. Incoherent rambling bullshit is how I’d describe it. Did he actually ask his class to pair off in threes.s or four.s (although there was an once an Australian football captain who told his team members to pair off in three.s and line up in a circle)?

  85. #85 sotonohito
    October 16, 2008

    #45 – stogoe

    I’m not saying that we should give up, I’m simply saying that that particular fight is over before it even started, and we need to get ready for the real (and doubtless quite ugly) inevitable court battle. That’s the only place we can fight, ugly or otherwise. The committee battle ended the instant the members were announced.

    All the pro-reality types on that committee can do is try and lay some groundwork for the real fight, but the idea that they have any chance of actually influencing the committee’s decision is absurd. They’re there to provide cover for the crazies, and our best hope for them is that they can do what few things are available to them to make the coming court case, aka the real fight, easier.

  86. #86 Keanus
    October 16, 2008

    I agree with Rodrigo Neely on Gerry Skoog. I had the pleasure of working with Gerry almost 35 or so years ago (I was in text book publishing and he was a consultant on a project I ran). He’s a sharp, well spoken supporter of science and science education. He’ll not tolerate any guff from the ignorant.

    That said, one would think the committee would be drawn from biologist or scientist with an education in biology. But no, they included Myers, who we know is no biologist, and Garner who’s a chemist. Yecch!

  87. #87 Fatboy
    October 16, 2008

    Keanus – just to clarify, the commitee’s for the science standards, not biology specifically. I’d have expected (well, hoped, considering the members of the BoE) that the committee would have included scientists from various fields.

    Oh well, it looks like I have lots of letters to write to my representatives, though I doubt that will do a lot of good.

  88. #88 Ed Darrell
    October 16, 2008

    In the last round of biology textbook approvals, David Hillis’s 15-year-old son testified, noting that his AP biology book was rather sound, and that creationism was not. It was fun and entertaining testimony.

    I’d love to see either of the Discovery Institute people debate the younger Hillis on evolution and how the textbooks ought to treat it. It would be fun to see a probably-by-now young college kid wipe the floor with DI’s best.

    But you know what? DI is afraid to debate him.

  89. #89 Bill Dauphin
    October 17, 2008

    Peter Ashby (@83) and Wilfred Owen win the internet!

  90. #90 Zaius
    October 17, 2008

    Terri Leo, Texas State Board of Education, District 6 is up for reelection. She says “They call them all ‘theories’ so as to put evolution on equal grounds with a law. It is still the law of gravity and the law of relativity, and still the ‘theory of evolution.’ ”

    There is no Democrat running for the seat. Her only opposition is Mary Ann Bryan on the Libertarian ticket. This is also true in District 8, another seat held by the creationists.

    http://www.strengthsandweaknesses.org has been kind enough to put together a list of creationists up for a vote this year.
    (Guess which column)

    District GOPDemLibertarian
    2 Peter JohnstonMary Helen Berlanga —
    6 Terri Leo—Mary Ann Bryan
    7 David BradleyLaura Ewing Richard R. Johnson
    8 Barbara Cargill—Kim B. Stroman
    13Cindy WernerMavis Best Knight—
    14Gail LoweEdra Bogle John E. Shuey

  91. #91 Kel
    October 17, 2008

    Terri Leo, Texas State Board of Education, District 6 is up for reelection. She says “They call them all ‘theories’ so as to put evolution on equal grounds with a law. It is still the law of gravity and the law of relativity, and still the ‘theory of evolution.’ “

    Woah! Scientific ignorance at it’s finest.

  92. #92 Naomi
    October 19, 2008

    I started a skeptic society group in Houston, and a member of the group brought this to my attention a few days ago. I will be keeping my eye out for further petitions, class action lawsuits, or other means I can combat this crap. I am SO glad my sons have already graduated.

  93. #93 Topic Agnostic
    October 28, 2008

    We covered this story at Topic Agnostic too…the most important thing we can do it talk about it. A lot. The more attention is drawn to the motives of the Texas State Board of Education, the less they can get away with.

  94. #94 rod-the-farmer
    November 2, 2008

    I suggest anyone with any connection at all to their local university/college, write to Texas newspapers. Even if all you know is the name of your local university. Tell them you will be advising your entrance committee to require an additional year of remedial science courses, from any student from a Texas high school who applies for first year courses, regardless of the courses they might wish to attend. Then tell them that you are so advising the entrance committee because of the apparent anti-evolution bias of the State Board of Education and its members.

  95. #95 Memo to America
    November 2, 2008

    Next time Mexico wants Texas – let them have it. Seriously.

  96. #96 Mr. Templer
    November 2, 2008

    This is the worst news I’ve had in quite awhile. I am a Texas high school biology teacher, so I have quite a personal stake in this matter. There’s no way that I will teach magic in my classroom.

    Part of the reason why some Texas high schools can get away without teaching evolution at all is because the TAKS test doesn’t emphasize it very much. All of the curricula in Texas are driven by the TAKS, so if it’s not in the TAKS, many teachers won’t teach it. This is a system that deserves to be left behind.

  97. #97 tony
    November 2, 2008

    hello from the uk.

    Yes i’m aware this has less than nothing to do with me. I just want to wish all you decent, non-god-fearing americans the best of luck in the fight against the slide back into the dark ages.

    Thanks to the dominance of the religious right in your political system, America is so easily caricatured over here as a nation of imbeciles that I have in the past been shouted down when trying to remind people that in fact there are many thousands of rational, scientific Americans just as dismayed by the antics of the anti-reason brigade as any of us.

    I am an atheist, but when the chips are down, I pray. I know there’s no-one on the other end of the line, but sometimes it just feels good to articulate one’s fears and hopes. This is only natural… sometimes my poor brain just gets a bit lonely, rattling around in it’s skull all alone. So my brain finds it helpful to make-believe there is someone else there, kind of like a bird with a mirror in its cage. As far as I’m concerned, this is the basis of all faith. ‘God’ is just the mirror in the budgie’s cage… some people just can’t accept that in fact, they are all alone in their skulls with no-one to appreciate their true selves.

    Sometimes, for example like just now when i followed the link above in post number 41, I just pray (to the god i don’t believe in) that one morning by some miracle (that i don’t believe in), that all these people will wake up and shrug off their dependence on their imaginary friend for the strength and resilience that life demands of them. I pray that one day they will simply grow up, and recognise that they have everything they need, right there within themselves.

    Keep fighting the good fight America. We need you here, with us, in reality! The world can’t afford to have a superpower, a nation with its finger on the Button (the big red button that says ‘do not press’), controlled by a suicide cult.

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