Measured Against Reality

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Here we go again II: Texas plans on advocating ID

It's been a big week for the culture wars. First a Florida school district shows sympathies for ID, and then was the news about a Texas science curriculum director resigning, (more correctly being forced to resign), and for forwarding an E-mail from the National Center for Science Education, which should be fine. But now this comes out:

Chris Comer has always been an advocate for science, including the integrity, accuracy, and reliability of science. For her entire employment history at TEA, she was asked almost monthly to write letters to parents complaining about the teaching of evolution in their child's science class. She always referred the parents to the science TEKS which requires evolution (although about half of the biology classes in Texas don't teach it). She also was forced many times to speak to "concerned" Creationist parents about evolution instruction in their local school district to which they disapproved. She always patiently defended the accuracy and reliability of evolutionary biology. In addition, she frequently forwarded information about upcoming science conferences and presentations to individuals and email lists. It was part of her job.

However, TEA has a new policy, one of neutrality between biological evolution and Intelligent Design Creationism. This new policy was put in place when Dr. Don McLeroy--an outspoken Creationist and activist for Intelligent Design Creationism and its marketing campaign--was appointed the new Chair of the State Board of Education (SBOE). By publicizing a lecture by a Louisiana State University professor of the philosophy of science that supported evolution--as required by the state's science standards--and opposed Intelligent Design Creationism, Chris Comer ran afoul of the new policy and was asked to resign or be fired immediately. The memo to her from the TEA contained several other excuses, all of which were bogus, trumped-up, or common among employees. Amazingly, this memo is now available for the public to read thanks to the American-Statesman (see below), and it reveals the lengths to which the top administrators of our state's public education agency will go to silence dissent from their new policy of not criticizing Creationism.

The real reason she was forced to resign is because the top TEA administrators and some SBOE members wanted her out of the picture before the state science standards--the science TEKS--were reviewed, revised, and rewritten next year. Plans are underway by some SBOE members and TEA administrators to diminish the requirement to teach about evolutionary biology in the Biology TEKS and to require instead that biology instructors "Teach the Controversy" about the "weaknesses" of evolution, that is, teach the Creationist-inspired and -created bogus controversy about evolution that doesn't exist within legitimate science. There are no scientific weaknesses with biological evolution as the natural process is understood by scientists. At the level at which it is taught in high school, evolutionary biology has no weaknesses, gaps, or problems. Therefore, it is duplicitous to pretend such "weaknesses" and "controversy" exist.

This is huge. If they actually do rewrite the standards that way, it will be a huge case. And no matter how careful they are from here on out, their actions and statements will doubtless make it clear that it was religiously motivated, hence failing the "secular purpose" prong of the
As I said in my post about the Florida county, if they do this they will regret it. They'll get sued, they'll lose, and they'll have to pay millions of dollars, and will probably all lose their jobs (although there's no telling in Texas). And for what? So you can get your religion taught in a biology classroom? I guess demagogues will risk anything to get their truth pushed on others. It's sickening.

Watch these two cases, if they evolve into Dover II, they'll be interesting to follow.

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