Fire Don McLeroy

Don McLeroy is the deranged creationist dentist who was appointed to the chairmanship of the Texas State Board of Education, and who is responsible for the recent purge and intimidation of people who support good biology — he's trouble all the way through. Take a look at his latest stunt.

The State Board of Education's debate on new English and reading standards took another rowdy turn Friday as members approved a never-before-seen version of the lengthy document which materialized less than an hour before the board was to take a final vote.

After a wacky and terse debate on the new curriculum, the board voted 9-6 in favor of the new version, which will remain in place for the next decade and sets standards for state tests and textbooks, as well as classroom teaching.

Experts and teachers have been working on the new curriculum standards for two and a half years.

"I find it's really wild that we can work for three years on a project and then the board is so qualified they can pull it out of their hat overnight," said board member Pat Hardy, a Fort Worth Republican who, like other board members, received the substituted document when it was slipped under her hotel door less than an hour before their meeting was set to convene Friday morning.

Some social conservatives on the board prepared the latest version overnight.

This is similar to what our former education commissioner for Minnesota, Cheri Yecke, tried to pull — she tried to swap in a 'minority report' for the state science standards that was composed behind the back of the official committee … only McLeroy has outdone her by an order of magnitude or so. Why even bring in qualified educators and scientists to do the hard work of a standards committee if you're just going to throw their work away and replace it with some hack job done by ideologues overnight? And to give it to them for review an hour before the meeting is just plain insulting.

This is for the English standards. What kind of circus are we going to see in response to the upcoming science standards?

At least one board of education member is calling for McLeroy's ejection, although it sounds like she doesn't expect anything to come of it. This is what we can expect of creationist conservatives: a dictatorship of the incompetent.

More like this

Minnesotans are going to be apologizing for this for a good long while (Why? Because we're so darn nice and we hate to see pain inflicted on others). Cheri Yecke is clawing her way to greater responsibility in the Florida educational system. On the other side of the equation, state K-12 chancellor…
This is the time — you can give feedback on the Minnesota science standards, and you can also apply to be on the standards writing committee. Here's where you have a chance to make a difference. The Minnesota Department of Education is now soliciting feedback from the public on the current Science…
The Minnetonka school district is one of the best in Minnesota, with an exceptionally concerned and active set of parents and teachers who work hard to keep informed and support their schools. They established an organization, TonkaFocus, to oppose creationism in the schools and attempts to…
Having totally borked science education in the Lone Star State, the Texas School Board is now winding up to stuff their right wing ideologies into the Social Studies curriculum. I for one can't wait until Texas leaves the Union so we can put Texas and Turkey in the same category and begin to…

Thanks for keeping awake and keeping this an issue. I'm in TX and I find it all too easy to forget about these nuts. (I wish we could all forget about these nuts.)

By Christianjb (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Odd, isn't it, that doing the Lord's work once again requires deception and dishonesty? Actually, maybe not. That seems to be standard operating procedure.

I'm surprised anyone actually voted for it - not because of it's content, but just because of the way it was presented. To any person on that board, this should feel like a slap in their face, the total disrespect demonstrated towards them. The only persons I could see voting for it are those who were in on the scheme, or sheep.

Did anything interesting get changed? You are probably right that a circus is ahead concerning the science standards. Maybe this whole "English Standards" thing is a good wake up call for Texans to keep an eye on things to come.

It worked for the PATRIOT ACT, so why not some measly English educational standards.

By MAJeff, OM (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Oh get real. What is the point of being a theocrat with power if you can't violate state and federal laws right and left as well as any commandments and moral/ethical considerations.

Being a sociopath with a stay out of hell card is heaven on earth.

And yes, the nine who voted for it had to be in on the scam. As well as the governor and at least a majority of the state legislature. What you call pathetic they call a good start.

I live in Texas and I feel absolutely helpless when it comes to taking on these quacks. What can I do? Write my congresspeople? Write the governor? They don't care one iota what a godless liberal like me has to say. I've tried. This state is fast turning into, and perhaps even surpassing, Tennessee and Louisiana in terms of having a shoddy, right-wing, Christian Evangelical educational system.

He's both deranged and creationist?

WHAT YOU SAY !!

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

I agree with #8. I live in Texas too and writing someone isn't going to matter. Never has in the past. There doesn't seem to be much of anything that can be done.

By OctoberMermaid (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Practical action:

1) Join the ACLU. We know the ACLU annoys these people more than anything.

2) Texan citizens for Science is a good group: http://www.texscience.org/

Letter writing to newspapers is probably more effective than you think. Quite a lot of Texans are actually quite disgusted when they find out what's going on. The biggest problem is that people don't know this is happening.

By Christianjb (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Whenever I read these stories, I find myself asking the same questions: Do these boards have any procedural rules whatsoever? Set procedures for developing curricula? Minimum time periods for review and debate of proposed changes prior to voting? Checks on the chair's power?

This kind of thing would never fly in small-town New England. People in the opposition would be dusting off the old rule books faster 'an you can say swamp yankee.

Shortly after the nomination of Doctor(?) Don McLeroy's appointment to the TBA chair, I wrote a letter of complaint to Pastor...er, Governor...Perry, who's office responded with a meaningless response thanking me for something they most certainly did not want to hear. What you and I must realize is that people such as these despise the Constitution of the United States of America because it does not support their skewed religious version of our free country. All we thinking Texans can do now is to foot the bill for a repeat of Dover which the cdesign propentists soundly lost. There must be some good reason to live in Texas...I wish I could remember what it was.

By bigjohn756 (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

How exactly does one have a 'wacky' debate? Was one of the participants Daffy Duck?

Texans, send Steve Schafersman of TCS as much money as you can afford. Steve is our staunchest advocate in Austin and he needs support for his frequent trips to Austin where he labors in our behalf.

By bigjohn756 (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Conservatives lauded the new curriculum.

"It is obvious that too many Texas public school students aren't learning the basics with our current curriculum," said Brooke Terry, education policy analyst for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. "We are glad the new curriculum will emphasize grammar and writing skills."

Why do I suddenly feel a suspicion that the previous version of the standards may have had something like a "critical thinking" component?

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

We can start here,I live in east texas,and i do not agree.

By popeyemoon (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

"We are glad the new curriculum will emphasize grammar and writing skills."

I wonder if these idiots even know the difference between grammar and usage? And I'll bet my pension that they don't know how to teach either one to kids who are ESL, kids who are bilingual, or kids for whom standard English is a second dialect. Those are the students who are dragging down their state test scores. Those are the children who are getting left behind.

By The Wholly None (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

It is Ironic that NASA has such a large presence in Texas (and Florida). I wonder how many future NASA scientists will come from local schools.

I'm surprised anyone actually voted for it - not because of it's content, but just because of the way it was presented. To any person on that board, this should feel like a slap in their face, the total disrespect demonstrated towards them. The only persons I could see voting for it are those who were in on the scheme, or sheep.

You can bet this was in the works for a long time before the vote was actually taken. I bet at least nine people had been working on it on the side for a long time.

Ed Darrell's son is graduating just in time.

I am in Texas and part of the group that is revising the biology standards. We have already made changes to strengthen the teaching of evolution. But it looks like it won't matter what we submit, the state board will bring in a "substitute" document. Fellow Texans, get people out to vote in November. there are some state board members we need to vote out on the November ballot. Apparently, the board is not bound to follow any rules or protocol in their meetings.

cdesign propontsits new definition in the new standard- word made up by librel nazi evolutionists to discredit hard working god faring honest intelligent design proponents to win the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial.
(just a joke)

When a board or commission violates its own rules regarding procedures for considering, amending, or adopting resolutions, it opens itself up to legal challenges. That's why advocacy groups who favor rational educational standards need to stand watch over actions like those of the Texas State Board of Education. It's a public agency and there are rules governing such. Are they in violation? Then it may be that they can be sued.

FWIW, I posted on this as well; I started my draft before I read this post, but added a link. I can't see too much where I disagree with PZ on this. McLeroy has got to go.

So, is our children learning?

By chancelikely (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

LEEEEROY JENKINS!

By Laser Potato (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

I was recently accepted to a certification program here in Texas and elected to teach high school English. I'm already having second thoughts.

This is what we can expect of creationist conservatives: a dictatorship of the incompetent.

Well, they are modeling themselves after our president.

They produce new "standards" an hour before the vote and the standards the pros produced took two years to make?

Any lawyers here want to give an opinion if an open meeting act might have been violated by these actions? Many states have them, does Texas? If some secret committee on the board of education wrote then the legality of their action might be in question.

An open meeting act has been a factor with creationist nuts before. Oklahoma's Textbook Committee attempt to include an anti-evolution disclaimer was struck down, in part, because the local open meeting act was violated.

And even if it is not a violation of the law, it is certainly unethical in the extreme. Citizens are entitled to more than an hours notice on measures that will affect them and their children.

You ask, "Why even bring in qualified educators and scientists to do the hard work of a standards committee if you're just going to throw their work away and replace it with some hack job done by ideologues overnight?"

So that McLeroy can claim there were experts involved in the preparation of the new standards. That there work and recommendations were ignored is, of course, never mentioned.

In my experience, stuff like this is not uncommon in public education.

davidlpf (#25) wins the Poe award for this thread.

Also:

Foxtrot Foxtrot Sierra, even the board of my community theatre group has to have 30 days' notice to vote on things as contentious as the budget for our next performance. One hour to study a 10-year plan for the entire state?? There's gotta be a procedural rule they're breaking. Gotta be.

Also also:

The NASA presence in Texas? This is the same NASA that decided they needed cattle on the base, cause hey, it's Texas, then forgot to have anyone come to feed and water them when the base was closed for a week due to excessive heat. Apparently they've already been hiring from outside the intelligent, educated segment of society.

So what is it with dentists? Ever since I was a kid I've found dentist offices full of creationist and evangelical literature. What about dentistry attracts these people?

What the Texas board of education is doing seems completely rational to me.

Mind you, I am clinically insane.

By Jehovahs witless (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

I have had enough of this crap. American citizens are going to have to put in place legislation that disallows some political hack school board from determing specific areas of education. There should be a vote by experts in the field on what to teach the students in that field. The school board should only be allowed to state how much time and money will be allocated to that field.

By Bubba Sixpack (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

What about dentistry attracts these people?

I'm pretty sure it has something to do with meat-eating plants from outer space.

Hmmm, now that I think about it... Intelligent Design: The Musical!. Nah, too plain. Needs more spice. Little Shop of Canards? Not likely.

I'm sure there's a salable product here. We get Roy Zimmerman to write the words and music, and PZ to write the book, yeah, and Broadway, here we come! Just need that catchy title. Best Little Schoolhouse in Texas? Donny Does Dallas? Work with me, people!

Man am I glad I had the best biology teacher in Texas when I learned about evolution. It's sad to see the education system in Texas to sink further into the thick osmium laden mud.

Oh shit, I live in Texas. I swear if I have to learn about "intelligent design" in biology next year I'm going to kick this McLeroy guy in the balls.

I always hear that textbook decisions made in Texas affect educational content throughout the country. If this is true, why must it remain true? Why can't other states refuse to use compromised texts like this and effectively isolate Texas?

The problem is economics: Texas and California are the two largest textbook markets in the country, so publishers won't market books that can't be sold there.

Well, I too am from Texas and this is obviously bad news. Hopefully we can keep tabs on these people to make sure things don't get "worse". It's too easy for those things to go unnoticed until things get real bad, since I tend to focus on national rather than local news.

At least I'm out of High School...

By Bernardo Cunha (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

deang: I always hear that textbook decisions made in Texas affect educational content throughout the country. If this is true, why must it remain true? Why can't other states refuse to use compromised texts like this and effectively isolate Texas?

Because Texas is just too damned big a market and textbook publishers are very profit-motivated. They produce books to the least common denominator so as to sell them in as many states as possible. If a big state like California adopts public school textbook standards that disagree in a significant way from those of Texas, the publishers will grimace and produce alternative editions, but that occurs only if California (or other big states) insist on including things that Texas wants left out. For example, when Texas downplays evolution while evolution is in the California standards, a biology textbook publisher will hope to sell both states a book that barely mentions it. Unless California insists on covering it, the publisher will try to skim over it and hope the omission doesn't cause any loss of sales.

One fortunate trend is that textbook publishers are getting more and more involved in custom publishing. It is no longer such a big problem to create alternative editions of a textbook. The danger, of course, is that backward states will have freer rein to dumb down the curriculum so as not to offend their godly residents.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

Just wondering when you good folks are gonna start remembering all this, but perhaps more importantly, acting on it.

This state is fast turning into, and perhaps even surpassing, Tennessee and Louisiana in terms of having a shoddy, right-wing, Christian Evangelical educational system.

Posted by: Keith B | May 24, 2008 6:50 PM

You're not so hot, so don't be messing with Tennessee. Tennesse just out-performed TExas on the NAEP writing assessment.

But of more insterst, as far as I can see K-12 education is royally screwed up in America. It still kow-tows to the needs of an industrializing nation, not the needs of a post-industrial nation. Kids get a fragmented and shallow education when they're not prepping for tests. Hardly what is needed in this modern world.

The problem is economics: Texas and California are the two largest textbook markets in the country, so publishers won't market books that can't be sold there.

Posted by: PZ Myers | May 24, 2008 10:07 PM

It's actually changing. Now, with modern desktop publishing/printing, States can order semi-custom books that fit their standards better. They're (often) still crap - shallow, poorly conceptualized, factually wrong (don't get me started) and suffer from other problems.

But the 800lb Gorilla of CA & TX is going the way of the dodo.

I swear if I have to learn about "intelligent design" in biology next year I'm going to kick this McLeroy guy in the balls.

I'd say you're better off not waiting.

seriously, the headline:

"Student Kicks Ignorant Bureaucrat in Balls"

...would certainly draw media attention to the issue.

Didn't this guy run opposed?
You've only got yourselves to blame.

By Dan druff (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Scott, kick from the other side I have feeling that is where his brains are located.

This question applies to just about ever aspect of fundy encroachment on education and gov't (and has been pointed out before time and again I'm sure), but what do you do when people are willing to do and say anything when they think they're doing "the lord's work," getting a few more go-to-heaven-free cards, battling "evil" (in the for of..well...everyone else), etc?

It's difficult to comprehend such sophomoric and dishonest tactics but par for the course for these liars and cheats. I would be curious what jesusful changes they want in English education (as an college English instructor myself).

Dan druff #50

"Didn't this guy run opposed?
You've only got yourselves to blame."

This awful jackass didn't run (I assume you mean) unopposed. He was appointed by Governor Perry. For the record, I didn't vote for that ignorant douche.

Every time they pull a stuint like this I sit stunned trying to figure out how they can reconcile this with being an honest person.

The I look up and realize I'm watching the UFC, and have bad thoughts about certian light heavy weights visiting Texas.

That's how they passed Louisville's disgusting animal control ordinance. Changed everything about an hour before the meeting.

Fortunately, a court struck the law down as violating the rules for public meetings. There's also a constitutional challenge coming up, the factum is pretty impressive.

This crap happens to dog owners all the time. And others, of course.

Dan druff #50

Didn't this guy run opposed?
You've only got yourselves to blame.

Although he (and the other board members) were elected in their districts, McLeroy was appointed Chairman of the TX BoE last year by Governor Rick Perry, to the consternation of many citizens.

McLeroy and six other "social conservatives" have been stealth candidates for the Religious Right. For a fascinating writeup on them see http://www.tfn.org/files/fck/RRReport2008web.pdf .

that link doesn't work, txjak.

I'd like to see the writeup, actually.

Nobody noticed this in the report?

Teacher groups complained that the curriculum was a patchwork and poorly written, but largely withheld judgment.

I guess they want to buy a new red pen before they go through it.

The text seems to be in the pdfs at the bottom here. How many grammatical and spelling errors can you find?

This is a travesty!

I suggest any Texan who truly values reason to take advantage of the state's notoriously lax gun control & correct this mistake as soon as possible.

Or are you all a bunch of worthless intellectual dilletants too scared to do what must be done?

Thank you, Shaden Freud. That is Edward Current's best yet.

I know this is a bit OTT but I'm hoping someone here can give me a couple of pointers... Here in NZ we have a group called "Focus on the Family" & every so often they send round nice glossy materials sourced from the DiscoInst to all the HoDs Science - & also the librarians - at all our secondary schools. The latest one is "The Privileged Planet" - my daughter's science teacher sent it home to me for comment because she was (thank goodness) suspicious about it but couldn't put her finger on why. Being a regular lurker here I recognised the title & also the name of the scientist (Guillermo Gonzalez) quoted so approvingly throughout the wee booklet that comes with the CD.

Anyway, to cut a long story short - can anyone here point me at links/resources dealing with the particular arguments made in Privileged Planet that I can give the teachers I know? I can make a stab at it but I'm a biologist & some nice weighty physics stuff would be extremely helpful.

hopefully,
Alison

Fellow Texans, I think we need a plan of action. Goddamn it, if we can flood the internet polls, we can flood Perry's office.

Other Pharyngulites who are Texas expatriates, you can participate too; just say you're planning to come home someday and will have kids in the school system, or that you would rather not find a third-world country when you return.

I've started putting together a plan of action with phone numbers and addresses for your convenience (I have some old PTA stuff that should make this easier).

I'll get that posted by tomorrow or Monday so that we'll be ready to go on Tuesday.

What say you . . . is this worth doing?

This post will contain multiple links, so I'll break it up into a few.

Allison, I have heard of that "focus on the family" thing in NZ before; there is a NZ science blogger that has mentioned it here and on her blog.

I'll see if I can find her posts for you.

ITMT, there have been many addressals of the nonsense contained in "Privileged Planet", most notably on the Panda's Thumb:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/idcreationism/intelligent-design/pr…

other places:

http://www.csicop.org/sb/2005-09/reality-check.html

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Avalos.cfm (this one is probably the best summary of what is wrong with the Privileged Planet video, and was written by a professor of Theology, btw).

>>>
(cont.)

>>>cont.

It's been mentioned on Pharyngula in relation to Gonzales' poor science, and the reasons he was denied tenure on this blog, too (just search on "privileged planet" and the relevant threads will show up).

as to gonzales himself, I think there might be a good review of what REALY happened with him here:

http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/gonzalez

you might also acquaint your peers with the Wedge Document:

http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

explained a bit here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

though you can find discussions of it on almost any science blog.

hope that helps.

you can also ask specific questions about issues raised by those articles, or in Privileged Planet, and likely you will be inundated by good responses here.

good luck!

@Leigh:

you should volunteer to work with these guys on the issue of the Texas BOE:

http://www.texscience.org/

They will surely help you organize and collate information for fighting those idiots on the BOE much more efficiently than most of us could.

In fact, looking at their site, they could use some input from you to organize a new campaign against the BOE. it should be front page news there, and you should push them for it, IMO. Moreover, if they are already thinking about it, they likely could really use your help, too.

As others have pointed out, McLeroy was appointed by the governor, Rick Perry. As an employee of a Texas Community College who follows the politics behind education in this state, I can say unequivocally that Perry is the greatest enemy of both secondary and higher education in the United States that I have ever even heard of, particularly for the disadvantaged.

Just last year, he refused to allow health insurance benefits for all community college employees because he said all their presidents had lied to him about how many may have had benefits from other sources. He finally relented after wrecking the budgeting process of all 50 community colleges in Texas for the year, and then only due to political pressure.

Similarly Perry appointed someone who is willing to subvert parliamentary procedure in order to disrupt secondary education.

Obviously, the goal of both these unneeded disruptions is simply to do as much harm to education in the state as possible. Perhaps he has connected the lack of support among educated voters with his political ambitions.

This buffoon won the last election by only 39% of the vote because the opposition split between Chris Bell (democrat), Carole Keeton Strayhorn (a republican running as independent) and 'Kinky Freidman' (a comic running as independent). One can only hope the opposition in the next election places the needs of the people of the state before their personal egos and does not split the vote again.

By Anglagard (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

@#71 Anglagard --

Obviously, the goal of both these unneeded disruptions is simply to do as much harm to education in the state as possible.

Yes, well, as we all know, colleges & universities are very dangerous to the spiritual health of America.

78% of fundies can't be wrong!

Ichthyic, I had planned to make contact with Steve and float this plan by him, especially to see if he would like to participate or suggest modifications. I'm already a member of Texas Citizens for Science. But since I live in Austin, I could easily be a foot soldier, personally deliver petitions, etc.

#62

This is a travesty!

I suggest any Texan who truly values reason to take advantage of the state's notoriously lax gun control & correct this mistake as soon as possible.

Or are you all a bunch of worthless intellectual dilletants too scared to do what must be done?

Posted by: Anon. | May 25, 2008 1:10 AM

Gee, someone calling themselves XXX said something quite similar over at Bad Astronomy's post about the subject:

http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/05/24/thats-it-texas-really-is-…

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that you're the same person. Well, sir and/or madam, you're either:

A) demented and sick , in need of some help to learn that violence is not an answer to this situation (or indeed, most situations)

or

B) a troll, trying to get someone to bite so you can then go to all your fundie pals and say "SEE! I told you they're all immoral savages, ready to kill at the drop of a hat!"

Perhaps if PZ takes a peek at your IP, it'll become clearer which you are. I'm leaning towards B.

#62

This is a travesty!

I suggest any Texan who truly values reason to take advantage of the state's notoriously lax gun control & correct this mistake as soon as possible.

Or are you all a bunch of worthless intellectual dilletants too scared to do what must be done?

Posted by: Anon. | May 25, 2008 1:10 AM

Gee, someone calling themselves XXX said something quite similar over at Bad Astronomy's post about the subject:

http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/05/24/thats-it-texas-really-is-…

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that you're the same person. Well, sir and/or madam, you're either:

A) demented and sick , in need of some help to learn that violence is not an answer to this situation (or indeed, most situations)

or

B) a troll, trying to get someone to bite so you can then go to all your fundie pals and say "SEE! I told you they're all immoral savages, ready to kill at the drop of a hat!"

Perhaps if PZ takes a peek at your IP, it'll become clearer which you are. I'm leaning towards B.

Sorry for the double post... figured I'd fix my tag

The problem is economics: Texas and California are the two largest textbook markets in the country, so publishers won't market books that can't be sold there.

Why restrict yourselves to huge nation-wide American publishers? Ireland has a population about the same as Kentucky and manages to support a couple of schoolbook publishers and a few different textbooks for every subject. Surely there are smaller publishers in the US who can eke out a niche for themselves producing decent quality textbooks to all but the smallest states?

Could it be that McLeroy is trying this circumvention of the normal procedures for drawing up education standards in English as the next subject to be looked as in science. If he can get away with it in English, which is not normally a subject with much controvesy over what should be taught (unless you count "Lord of the Flies" which always get some people upset. Guess they never read "The Spire"!) then a precedent will have been established for when he really does want to push his religious agenda, namely in science standards.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 24 May 2008 #permalink

Sometimes, I say let the fundies have their way and adopt these idiotic standards. Let them advertise that they are proud of their ignorance. It reduces the competition for slots in prestigious universities in less ignorant and intolerant states (and even in Texas, truth be known--we have some fantastic universities here). Imagine all those fancy biotech firms not accepting Texas-educated students for this reason, instead importing them from other states, because they can't trust anyone educated in Texas to have sufficient knowledge to perform even the most basic of jobs. Guess what, State X that isn't afraid to teach evolution: Your kids won't automatically get rejected by the premiere universities in sane states. You'll get that high-paying biotech firm, not Texas. Congratulations for thinking about your future!

I guarantee that:

When enough parents get letters from Harvard or Stanford or CalTech or Colby College rejecting their straight A little angel for not having sufficient science education;

When Texas universities have to 'dumb down' the science curriculum to accommodate an entire state of scientific morons--thereby making their science degrees worth next to nothing;

When science-oriented businesses like biotechs choose not to come to Texas because they won't trust the local pool of labor to have a sufficient education--costing Texans hundreds or even thousands of high-paying jobs;

When existing firms choose to relocate because the workforce with the kind of education they need is somewhere else, costing Texans their jobs (and the jobs of the people supporting their presence in the state);

Well, my friends, that's when the shit will hit the fan. That's when the indolent and the distracted and those with fucked up priorities like worrying about butt-fucking and feminists and brown people having, you know, rights-- Anyway, that's when all the idiots will finally understand what could have been prevented. But by then it will be too late. And fuck them for doing nothing when it mattered. They deserve the poverty and ignorance that will come from living in a creationist "paradise."

I'd sit back in my fed job security and laugh my ass off as Texas so-called education became the laughing stock of the nation, but my liberal heart bleeds for the children who never asked for this, who had no say in it. They don't deserve it. So I keep fighting these fuckers, and their ignorance, year in and year out.

Maybe Molly Ivins was right: The working definition of masochist is a liberal in Texas.

the board is so qualified they can pull it out of their hat overnight

I wouldn't have said "hat."

I wonder what the standards were? Maybe Jebus is the source of all grammar and usage?

And Aquaria, maybe that's it. Every decent university should let Texas know that a Texas high school diploma won't cut it anymore.

It's great to see so many fellow Texans here. Y'all keep those voices of reason and sanity strong, y'hear? Leigh, I'd be happy to participate in any email/letter/phone call campaign to fight the fundies in the SBE.

Apparently, to get around the open meeting law, two of the far right fantics on the state board in Texas are claiming they did all the work on the substitute document the night before. If three or more of them gather, then it is considered a "meeting"

And Aquaria, maybe that's it. Every decent university should let Texas know that a Texas high school diploma won't cut it anymore.

I don't see how any reputable university, especially an MIT or CalTech, could accept a student with a diploma from a state that refused to teach them such a basic concept. You're supposed to have a basic understanding of the usual subjects going in the door of the best colleges and universities. For the people on shakier ground with such things (for whatever reason), there are other avenues that devote more resources to such needs, like jr. colleges or some of the state unis. Those aren't bad choices for education, at all, but let's face it: North Texas University doesn't have the same prestige as Yale. That's reality.

Another possible scenario: the kids could be accepted, but they're automatically handicapped, right out of the gate, compared to students from other states. The student from Texas who would have had a 4.0 GPA if not for his struggles in a science course will have a tougher time in the job market.

As soon as I describe the "your kid is less likely to be accepted/hired" argument to most Christians, they get very, very quiet. They want their children to be able to go to the Harvards and CalTechs, if it's at all possible. They want them to have a strong enough foundation to help them get good grades in college so that they're more attractive to employers. It's just that they've never really thought through what a poor science education can mean, in the long run--and how it could affect them and the ones they love, personally.

Didn't this guy run opposed?
You've only got yourselves to blame.

He ran unopposed in his district for a seat as a member. Gov. Rick Perry appointed him chairman. The Republican Rot in Texas government goes deep and will take much hard work to remove. We have a recent infusion of tens of thousands of voters who signed on to support Obama. If they stick around a vote well, there is hope.

Alas for the science standards, many African American churches lean to the creationist side. There's a good that Commissar McLeroy will offend African Americans, too, as he offended Hispanics when he told them to bug off about including Hispanic literature in the suggested reading lists.

Yes, Texas has an open meetings act, and from my reading of the events, it seems clear that the majority on the board held several unannounced, closed meetings to get the English standards. If Greg Abbott were alive today*, the Texas AG's office would be investigating.

I guess they want to buy a new red pen before they go through it.

The text seems to be in the pdfs at the bottom here. How many grammatical and spelling errors can you find?

The version in the agenda is the one that was substituted out, as best I can figure. There is not yet a version of the standards available for public viewing.

Now, how can somebody get standing to sue?

Mike Hauch's generous comment above brings this to mind. One week ago today we attended the reception honoring Duncanville HS's top 11% of graduates. 75 kids with probably 300 AP tests between them, all-state choir, all-state band and orchestra, national champion debaters, electronics and computer whizzes, Girl Scout Gold Scouts and Eagle Scouts -- a fine bunch of kids. Of the 75, 74 are on the way to college, one is enlisting with the Marines. Nearly a third were off to science programs dealing with biological topics. Duncanville is a largely Baptist town, with creationist leanings in most churches. But for these kids, they got evolution in biology (it's still required by Texas standards). Many Texas high schools are in the same place. AP Biology requires evolution throughout, of course.

Why wouldn't we do for all of our students what we do for the best? Why would we hammer away at the foundations of the good education our best students get?

It's not just that these politicians like McLeroy are doing dumb things, it's that they are doing dumb things to kids in a way that will provide lasting damage to their careers, our state economy, and the nation.

These problems will not be resolved soon, or easily. Please keep watching.

(And, Leigh -- drop a note in at my blog, and check out the links to Texas Citizens for Science and the Texas Freedom Network, both listed above; there are organizations that can use your enthusiasm and support to fight for high quality education.)

* Greg Abbott is the current attorney general of Texas. While nominally a friend to open meetings, he is also a creationist, having filed a brief in favor of the Cobb County anti-science textbook stickers (why?), and otherwise has stayed out of the way of the corruption at the TEA. Abbott is a Republican, by the way. I think there's a trend here.

alison:

I can make a stab at it but I'm a biologist & some nice weighty physics stuff would be extremely helpful.

Astrophysicist maps out our own galaxy's end
Computer simulations produce spectacular images of Milky Way colliding and merging with neighbour.
by Janet Wong

Computer simulation of Milky Way-Andromeda interaction
April 14, 2000 -- The gigantic clouds of gas and matter that pelted the Milky Way in its infancy are mere fenderbenders compared to the catastrophic collision set to occur with the Andromeda galaxy in several billion years - and one U of T astrophysicist has mapped the fallout.
"We're on a collision course right now," says John Dubinski, professor of astronomy at U of T and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, who led the project with co-author Lars Hernquist of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "Within three billion years, the Milky Way will be swallowed up and merged with the Andromeda galaxy."
The 2.2-million-light-year gap between the Milky Way and Andromeda is closing at about 500,000 kilometres an hour, he explains. That pace will quicken as the two galaxies near each other. etc.

Gonzalez ignores some key facts that he is undoubtedly aware of. For one thing, our galaxy is due to collide with the nearest big spiral, Andromeda, in 3 billion years. This will be one of the largest collisions in the universe.

Our galaxy collides with others all the time, and right now is eating up some dwarf galaxies. But these are tiny ones, maybe 1/1000 of our size and have little effect. It is equivalent to driving down the highway and running over a bunny.

In a few billion years, we will be participants in a head on collision between two trains.

1. These collisions are getting to be very rare. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, expanding, and that expansion is accelerating, Dark Energy. It might be one of the last ones.

2. The effect on us or our descendants is speculative. But it might be deleterious. More supernovas, more collisions of neutron stars and black holes, more nearby gamma ray bursters. Some astronomers claim that elliptical galaxies, which will be the result, are inimical to life. The orbits of the stars become randomized and chaotic rather than the neat spirals we have today. This could result in planets being disturbed in their orbits, stripped away, and the cometary Oort clouds being sent into the inner solar system.

And what will we do, escape to a new galaxy? Right now going to the moon is hard.

Gonzalez could have just as easily written a book called the "Doomed Galaxy", "Unlucky Planet", or "Fasten your seat belts, it is going to be a bumpy ride."

Besides which, Privileged Plant, is just the anthropic principle thinly disguised.

Aquaria said

As soon as I describe the "your kid is less likely to be accepted/hired" argument to most Christians, they get very, very quiet.

They get quiet 'cause they're thinking about how to start their own fundie universities for home schooled kids.

There they are groomed to join their co-conspirators already in the halls of power. Seriously, they specialize in training for leadership roles, and they have powerful connections.

It's a scary future.

I agree Emmet Caulfield, back home in little old New Zealand we had country specific textbooks when I was at school and the population was only 3million. National standards there too. I had two very good teachers in biology in the last years of school, they taught together, teaching to their strengths. Both graduates in biology, one with, or was doing his Masters (I don't quite remember). I was very well prepared for university and having worked overseas in research since my PhD have never felt that my education was in any way inferior (except perhaps in grammar, but fashions change).

If little old NZ with a spread out population miles from anywhere can do it, the big, powerful, rich USA can do it. It simply takes political will, and there is the rub of it.

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

Many thanks, Ichthyic & Raven, for the links you've posted. The critique of 'The Privileged Planet' will be particularly useful, & I'll send the lot on to my colleagues in the secondary system. I very much appreciate your help :-)
Alison

This matter was the subject of a long front-page article in the Austin American Statesman this weekend.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

Does anyone else find it hysterically ironic that these dimwits justify this devious act as promoting improved grammar? Fundies??? GRAMMAR????

Amadan @ #89: I would be very surprised if it didn't have something to do with keeping people in their place (i.e., at a disadvantage) if English is not their native language. Somehow, in the Republican party currently, xenophobic nativism and religious fundamentalism seem to have agreed to make common cause.

By Octopoggle (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

Ed, I'm already a member of Texas Citizens for Science and Texas Freedom Network. Fellow Texans, I recommend that you join both . . . TFN is particulary valuable because they publish a daily newsbrief that keeps a close watch on this and other issues dear to our heartts.

Anon [62], for shame, you're sounding like a religious fanatic.

Surely the decision can be rescinded on the grounds of improper procedure.

Universities could right now announce that high-school graduates from Texas will have to take an entrance exam and might be assigned to a remedial Science Basics class.

Everyone who doesn't live in Texas can write to Governor Rick Perry (maybe he has a comment form on his Web site) and thank him for ensuring that graduates from Texas won't be competing effectively with you or your children for jobs. And c.c. to the State Board of Education.

There they are groomed to join their co-conspirators already in the halls of power. Seriously, they specialize in training for leadership roles, and they have powerful connections.

I recall reading recently that GWBush appointed not one, but 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's "Law University for Dummies" in his administration (including the person who oversaw the US attorneys during that particular scandal).

powerful connections indeed.

here's a bit about it:

http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2007/04/08/scandal…

The only thing that has worked in the history of this country to oppose back room deals like this have been large scale marches but the media no longer covers those until they progress to riot stage. My recommendation is get some parents, teachers, principals, and other educational experts march them to the board of education building with bibles and signs and cause a big enough scene that they have to acknowledge there is a difference between religion and oligarchy. Belief in a god isn't bad but attempting to force your very narrow minded dogma on other people's children is not moral, legal, or constitutional.

To Peter Ashby - I am one very very lucky mom who will be raising her Texans in Hamilton, NZ. One will be just over two when my husband wraps things up here and joins me. She'll talk like a Kiwi!! I already know that we will have a lot more adjusting to do than the expats I've read about on various blogs...they're all younger, richer, thinner, childfree, and didn't waste their time in careers like social work. I am just about to send my last bit of background check paperwork...I suppose after that's accepted I can give a month's notice at my current position and then...well, I guess just try to figure a way to pack my bike and clothes and hope that whatever 12-mo training they give me will leave me time to scout out a little flat or condo where we can squish up together.

My husband saw that I was getting comfortable in my current job and started leaving the local AM stations on. It worked...I'm chewing my arm off to get out of here. I honestly believe that if I leave the MsKatelings in the clutches of the public schools here I'll have to drop to working part time just to supplement it. And I don't know jack about teaching. And forget the private schools...the only dif is that parents get to pay for their kids to be indoctrinated faster and harder.

Tell me stories about how much better it will be in New Zealand, Mr. Ashby, please!

Well Ms Kate, obviously it depends on who you speak to but NZ students rate very highly internationally on the standard tests and they have apparently been improving. NZ teachers are friendly and approachable, treat them like human beings and you will be fine. The Kindergarten system is good, starting half time at 2 1/2 iirc, full time at 3ish. School starts at age 5, primary schools go from 5 to 10, then we have Intermediate schools for 2 years (a bit like junior high I think). High school is from 13 to 18 and a mix of co-ed and single sex. Students are generally streamed academically starting at Intermediate school, but it is flexible depending on performance. I knew people who moved up and down.

You and your MsKatelings will need to learn some Maoritanga, but there will be lots of that in Hamilton. You will get on well with the locals if you learn about rugby, women are allowed to be into rugby in NZ. The local team is called the Chiefs in the big Super 14 competition and just Waikato in the NZ championship, their nickname is the Mooloos and it is traditional to ring cowbells (Hamilton is a cow town) at games. Cricket is perhaps something you will aquire a taste for, softball is much played though. Netball is big too for women, a bit like basketball but only in that there is a ball and two hoops. It is fast and furious though, great to watch.

NZ schools all have playing fields and often gyms and swimming pools, kids are expected to be active and being so is part of NZ culture. NZ is very sun aware, the weather forecast in the sunny months will tell you how long for unprotected white skin to burn. Kids are not allowed outside at school unless well protected, including foreign legion style sunhats, our kid's school had spares for those who forgot, in bright colours. Oh yes, you will have to learn proper English spellings ;-)

Packed lunches are normal in NZ schools, in a plastic lunchbox usually. Fresh fruit and veg are common, cheap but seasonal. Hamilton will have local watermelons, pineapples from Oz mangoes etc, etc. The cuisine is very Pacific Rim, you can get fresh sushi, Vietnamese, Indonesian (Mmmmm, Nasi Goreng!). The supermarkets have live green lipped mussels for sale by the kilo (NZ is fully metric) too. The local fish is great, wait till you try snapper.

Much less religiosity too, and absent from public and political life. Religious parties get no electoral traction. Religion is very much a personal matter for NZers and discussing it is generally considered impolite (because it can cause conflict). Don't tell, don't ask, live and let live. Though you will get American Mormon missionaries occasionally (we get them here in the UK too). However there may be religious instruction in school, some well meaning old duffer (lay person usually not clergy) will come in once a week/fortnight and burble about Jesus. You have the right to remove your kid from such classes but they are harmless and the kids generally ignore them, there is no exam. There is no pledge, no flag saluting either NZers distrust such things as they are empty symbolism. If you want to display your patriotism you get up at dawn and attend the dawn parade for Anzac day April 25 (National Holiday) with the old soldiers. Or you spend money following the All Blacks on tour overseas. We are quietly proud of our military history but strong and enthusiastic members of the UN. We were/are in Afghanistan (special forces) but we did not join in Iraq. You may get some stick about US international actions, just tell them you didn't vote for Shrub (you didn't, did you?) and you want to be a NZer. They just want to know you aren't one of THOSE Americans.

We have peacekeepers in many places including East Timor and the Solomons. We maintain the ability to project troops into the pacific (we have defence responsibility for some Island States) but use it primarily for relief operations when the cyclones hit. The people in the islands are our cuzzies though there is some intra family tension. When we go to the rugby 7s in Edinburgh next weekend we will cheer NZ and Scotland, but also Samoa (unless they play NZ). I was at school in NZ with an ex captain of the Samoan rugby side, his sister captained NZ at netball. We are relaxed about this even if the Brits don't understand or want to understand.

NZ is a good place to be a woman, recently all the top constitutional positions were held by women (Governor General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Attorney General). Women can succeed there, can be the boss. Apparently they do so well many have to 'marry down' to men less qualified. However that does not mean men are at a disadvantage, the culture is still quite macho in many respects but the women can be honorary blokes.

Take advantage of the great outdoors and there is lots of it around Hamilton. Waitomo (huge mountain rising out of the plain) has glow-worm grottoes and blackwater rafting (wetsuit, head torch, rubber ring, underground river). Rotorua has bubbling mud pools and geysers. South is lake Taupo (boating, swimming, fishing) and just south of that is the volcanic plateau with three active volcanoes and skiing (National Park). To the west are iron sand surf beaches, over the ranges to the east the Pacific. To the NE is the Coromandel peninsula, steep, bush clad hills, turquoise bays, bad roads but worth it.

Join a tramping club if you don't have your own transport, get a backpack for MsKatelings until they are old enough to walk themselves. Sprogs should be no impediment to the great outdoors, ours weren't. Go for it, have fun and I will be jealous sat here in exile in Scotland. We sent our youngest back to university and she loves it. No reason why you won't.

Phew! finished. But you did ask ;-)

Peter

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

One more thing, don't try and play fast and loose with immigration. NZ actively seeks and deports overstayers regardless of nationality. Know the rules and play by them. The immigration points system changes depending on skill shortages, needs so if at first you don't succeed....

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

One last thing, your enjoyment of the great outdoors will be without fear of poisonous or predatory beasties. We have none of those apart from one shy and retiring spider who only inhabits some particular shoreline habitat, is very small, only the females bite and only dangerous to the very young/old/sick. No snakes, nothing with large nasty claws or big sharp teeth. No Jabberwockys. People die in the great NZ outdoors from drowning, exposure, falling off high places or being shot by their buddies when deer/pig hunting. Learn to swim (your kids will get taught at school and there are lessons widely available), learn how to dress and equip, maps etc. Be careful when hunting in dense bush. Duck shooting is safer. While we are on guns, NZ cops are not armed though squad cars will have a shotgun locked in the footwell and armed offenders squads (SWAT lite) are on standby.

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 25 May 2008 #permalink

Oh, Mr. Ashby, you've made me terribly happy. I will not at all mess with immigration. I already have a position with the Probation department starting 4 Aug. I've just sent them the very last of the paperwork (Corrections). I'll be getting my medical done with my PCP "at the last minute" (in order to get my BP as best it can be and lose at least ten pounds). And the Houston Consulate ofc told us we could finalize our work visas in NZ with the help of our employers. Although I am the only one with a job waiting they were enthusiastic about my husband's work history with Texas corrections and indicated he would have little trouble gaining employment, too. This is important as I'm pretty sure we cannot live on my salary alone.

I like hiking and biking and birding and swimming/walking in the surf and we are hoping not to need more than one vehicle, or even any vehicle if we can help it. I've never followed sports, though. I could learn.

Toddler will do well in the NZ schools but I worry about her teenage brother who has been in Lubbock TX(OK) and Henderson NV (no clue) public schools. If he does not catch up reeel quick-like I do not know what opportunities he might have.

Interesting, I had heard they were getting tough with the health stats of immigrants. I'm pleased to have been able to help motivate you ;-)

Yup, prisons we have and I'm sure skilled staff will be welcome, though the culture will be different and he will need a crash course in Maoritanga and all things Pasifika too. Living in Hamilton if you want surf or any sort of beach you will need a car. There ain't no viable public transport to any beach from there. BTW only swim between the flags when the life guards are in operation. People swimming alone drown with depressing regulatory, rips can be hard to spot and do move.

I expect your teenager will get assessed on arrival. He will need to bone up on the metric system mainly and be prepared for some cultural awareness as he is likely to have Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, Fijian and multi Asian schoolmates. Just being open to learning about/from them will be a good start. However since most of our urban schools are cosmopolitan places (the above described my school for eg), they are used to dealling with students dropping in from pretty much anywhere. If he is fluent in English he will do better than the average immigrant. Does he play any sport or have a strong interest? Joining in something like that will help him fit in.

There is an expectation of achievement or at least effort in NZ secondary schools, the half decent ones anyway. If you think he might be drifting don't hesitate to contact the school, just be nice about it ;-)

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 26 May 2008 #permalink

Well Ms Kate, obviously it depends on who you speak to but NZ students rate very highly internationally on the standard tests...

Not wishing to sound mean, but if you're moving from the US to any other English-speaking country in the world, you don't have to worry about school standards. NZ does indeed rate very highly, but even Ireland, which comes in behind Australia and NZ, comes in way ahead of the US. Ditto for Northern/Western Europe.

It seems to me these bozos are trying to provoke a court case now instead of later. I think they did the same thing with declining to accept a math textbook for no good reason. And I believe they won that one. In Texas the fix could be in. The goal is to go to court over English standards no one cares about. If they win then they have precedence for their authority to act without justification and for any reason. I don't know that we can trust judges in these parts to do the right thing. Plus, by voting these clowns in (Perry), it's like we've asked for it. My wife's an English teacher here in Texas, and many are hopping mad. I just don't know of anything that can be done. I assure you our letters just reinforce these people's confidence that they're right. They absolutely know they're being deceptive.

"They absolutely know they're being deceptive."

As in "wedge?"

Hi Ms. Kate
I just want to second everything Peter's said. We've lived in Hamilton NZ for the past 11 years & really enjoy it. Good schools, great parks (especially Hamilton Gardens)& walkways along the river, heaps of options for sports & cultural stuff. There's a community school of music, based at the university, that my daughter & I have been going to pretty much since we arrived here (we both play recorder) - great fun for us both & we've made some good friends through it too.
The beaches are good, both coasts, although as Peter says you need to listen to the lifeguards & swim between the flags. The west coast beaches in particular can be a bit hairy at times. But they're beautiful as well; I have to say I prefer them to the east coast beaches. And there's excellent fishing on (& off) both coasts, plus in the Waikato river & also down in Lake Taupo & the rivers feeding it. My husband & his fishing buddy were down at Taupo in the weekend & caught their limit of rainbow trout both days.
Anyway, I think you & your family will like it here :-)

Texans, I've got a draft action plan ready, but I haven't sent it to Steve S. yet to get his take on it. If he okays it, I'll email PZ to see if we can start a new thread, since this one has become "Your Personalized Tour of New Zealand".

Just kidding, and very envious, guys. I've always loved NZ, and God knows it would be better than Texas.

They get quiet 'cause they're thinking about how to start their own fundie universities for home schooled kids.

Heh. They are so already there. Go check out the website for Patrick Henry College. Click on the admissions link on the homepage and then check out the Statement of Faith that all students and faculty are asked (?required) to abide by. The honor code is also interesting.

OMG my state is a piece of shit. we need austin's university consituents to assert their brain power onto these wackjobs.

By PirateHooker (not verified) on 27 May 2008 #permalink

its simply the fault of govenor goodhair. He's a moron, and its not just because he's an aggie. I suspect he was a moron prior to that brainwashing.