This summer, in fact.Don McLeroy, dentist and chair of the Texas School board (a state-wide elected body) is a creationist. Of evolution, he says “I just don’t think it’s true or it’s ever happened.”The 15 member board is stocked with seven creationists. It could have been worse, but the outcome of recent elections was slightly favorable. The governor of Texas is a creationist. Hell, most Texans are creationists.The most likely creationist effort will be to insert a “strengths and weaknesses” clause … an academic freedom provision, into the language.Here is a current PDG essay on the situation by Joyce Anderson writing for the Jewish Times.Here is a recent post on the academic freedom issue, and here is Mike and me talking about it on the radio.
Continuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Yet another item from the first day of the conference, the pre-conference teachers day sponsored by Evolution 2008 and the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (MnCSE) …The Minnesota Citizens for Science Education presented Ken Hubert with an award. I am blanking on the name of the award right now, but eventually, the MnCSE web site will probably have a page on this, or an announcement about it. (We need time for some dust to settle.)Who is Ken Hubert?Well, when it comes to the Evolution – Creationism ‘debate’, Ken is Case Law 101… Continue reading
Continuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference … many things have been going on and I have more to report than time to report it. But I will get to all of it, I assure you. Tonight, I just want to cover part of today’s Education Symposium (moderated by your’s truly) … not all of it at once, thought, as it is kind of complex.If you happen to work for the University of Minnesota or know anyone who does, best to not read this or let anyone know about it. This is a little to heavy to be spoken of openly. (Since there are only 11 of you who read my blog, I think we’ll be safe.)I want to comment briefly on two of the talks, one by PZ Myers and one by Mark Decker. The other talks in the symposium were excellent, but I want to address them separately.First, to dispel rumors that PZ Myers passed out on he lawn in the middle of the campus; This is simply not true. It is true that he had slept only four hours over the previous two and a half days, and had just flown in that morning from Vegas, but he did not pass out on the lawn. In fact, we were able to wire him up quite nicely. Here are before and after photos of a little treatment we applied to get him through the afternoon (This is me on the right and our techie in the middle, in the first photo).BEFORE:AFTER: Continue reading
Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines is a book by Caroline Arnold and illustrated by Patricia Wynne for, I’d say, Pre-Elementary School kids and first/second grade. This is a good book to read to a pre-literate kid. Then put it away for later when the first grade academic report on birds is due … it will be an excellent reference.This is a well done and highly recommended book. Continue reading
There is a point that I’ve been trying to make for the last few weeks now, off and on, and it is not working. So I’m going to try something new. Please bear with me, and consider the following three scenarios regarding the idea that the Earth is Round (or, possibly, flat): Continue reading
Is a semi-organized effort to ‘crash’ obnoxious internet polls ethically acceptable? Is it boring? Is it stupid? I sometimes ask myself that question.But it’s complicated and will take a while to work out. In the mean time, PZ Myers points out this poll regarding the recent suggestion by a Maine school board member to drop evolution from the science classroom in his district.(Left side bar, two-thirds of the way down)
Despite the fact that the presidential candidates will not accept the invitation extended by Science Debate 2008 for a nationally broadcast science forum in May there is ample evidence to suggest that they should: A new poll … a real poll .. indicates that 85% of US Adults agree that there should be a debate.The poll results can be found here.Here is a summary of the poll: Continue reading
A Missouri House Committee has just approved for consideration of the House an Academic Freedom Bill drafted with the aid of the Discovery Institute.The bill has a nice twist to it in that it prohibits the consideration of any boundary or difference between religion and non-religion in regards to what to teach or how to teach it. In other words, the bill requires that state agencies, school administrators, and teachers ignore the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America in deference to state law. Therefore, challenges to this particular form of the bill would be a challenge to state’s rights.Such a challenge would result in the bill being struck down as clearly as any with any other challenge, but it could take longer. If there are sympathetic judges in the right places, a school district that obeys the higher level Federal law (or a teacher or a particular school) could be forced into the court system for one or two rounds of slash and burn lawyering.The best way to fight this sort of thing? Probably to make sure that individual legislators who introduce such bills, and who chair the committees that approve them, and so on, are held accountable for the legal fees that will be paid by cash-strapped school districts. Of course, such elected officials can’t be held accountable in any pecuniary way, but they can be made to pay by being tossed out of office by disgruntled taxpayers.The stamp of the Discovery Institute is obvious in both the wording of the bill and the fact that not a single news outlet has coverage of this event, but it is covered on the DI web site. They really ought to be a bit more discrete as I’m sure they will later want to deny involvement in this particular effort (at about the time the legal bills come in).This is just more of the Wedge Strategy, more of the Trojan Horse approach, and more of the same attack on our public school system, it’s children, and their teachers.Here is the main text of the bill: Continue reading
But plans for the Institute for Creation Research Masters Degree in Creationistic Biology for High School Teachers is out of Texas.
Members of the Academic Excellence and Research Committee and the Participation and Success Committee voted unanimously to approve the recommendation of Raymund Paredes, the state’s commissioner of higher education, not to approve the Institute’s application. The full Coordinating Board will vote on the committees’ recommendation on Thursday.”The issue before the Coordinating Board isn’t about academic freedom or free speech. The issue is whether the state will sanction the teaching of religion as science. Committee members today recognized that doing so would be a disservice both to science and to faith.Just as important, our state’s leaders have said that they want our public schools to do a better job preparing students for college and the jobs of the 21st century. If we’re serious about that goal, then we must be serious about how we train our teachers. Approving an advanced degree in science education from an institution that doesn’t really teach science would represent a huge step backward.”