Texas Education Chainsaw Massacre

THERE’S GOOD NEWS and there’s bad news out of Texas today. Unfortunately the bad news overwhelms the good, and we fear there’s more to come.

The Texas Board of Education (BOE), which is dominated by creationists, is currently deciding whether it should keep the anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly “strengths and weaknesses” language in the state’s current standards for science education.

Yesterday the BOE had a preliminary vote that seemed to be pro-evolution (or at least anti “strengths and weaknesses”). But there’s more to it than that. We’re going to give you excerpts from several news stories, with bold added by us:

The Dallas Morning News has this, Texas Board of Education votes against teaching evolution weaknesses, which says:

In a major defeat for social conservatives, a sharply divided State Board of Education voted Thursday to abandon a longtime state requirement that high school science teachers cover what some critics consider to be “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution.

[…]

The key vote Thursday was on an amendment to the proposed curriculum standards that would have restored the weaknesses rule.

The amendment was for restoring the “weaknesses” language, and it was defeated. That’s going to be useful in reading about this today. Let’s continue.

Board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who also supported the requirement, cast the issue as a battle about “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech” over whether students can thoroughly examine evolution. He accused supporters of evolution theory of using false evidence to back the theory.

“Those arguing against us have a bad history of lies,” he said.

Creationists accusing their opponents of having “a bad history of lies.” This is splendid material, but your Curmudgeon has no expertise in the field of mental health. Here’s more:

Evolution critics did score a minor victory, as the board agreed to an amendment that calls for students to discuss the “sufficiency or insufficiency” of Darwin’s tenet that living things have a common ancestry.

That change was proposed by board chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, who also supported the defeated strengths-and-weaknesses requirement.

That’s ghastly news. It’s more than a “minor victory” for the dark-agers, but it’s expected of McLeroy, about whom we’ve written a few times before, for example: Don McLeroy: The Mind of a Creationist Dentist.

The website of TV station Fox 34 in Lubbock has this, New Amendment To Science Curriculum Sparks Evolutionary Debate, which says:

The Texas State Board of Education, today, voted to require students to analyze and evaluate common ancestry and natural selection, both key components of modern evolutionary theory. The surprising vote came after the Board failed to reinstate language in the overall science standards, explicitly requiring coverage of the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

Amazing. The creationists lost on the “weaknesses” issue, so now they’re forcing the schools to question “common ancestry and natural selection.” We never saw that coming. Let’s read on:

“The Texas Board of Education took one step back and two steps forward today,” said Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute. “While we wish they would have retained the strengths and weaknesses language in the overall standards, they did something truly remarkable today. They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory such as the fossil record, universal common descent and even natural selection.”

Ah yes, John West.– a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (the DI), where he is Associate Director of their Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). That makes him one of the chief Keepers of their Wedge Strategy, and the guru of the cdesign proponentsists (a term described here: Missing link: “cdesign proponentsists”).

According to West, these changes, to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, means that teachers and students will be able to discuss the scientific evidence that is supportive, as well as evidence that is not supportive of all scientific theories.

Evidence “that is not supportive” of evolution shouldn’t take up much class time. Zero, we should think.

The Austin American-Statesman has this, State board shuns disputed language on evolution, which says:

Thursday’s vote was by a committee of the full board. Board members will vote today on the state science standards and could propose more changes. The board will hold a final vote at its March meeting.

As we’ve been saying, it isn’t over. Actually, it can get worse. Moving along:

However, the board later approved, 9-6, a motion by board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, to require students to evaluate the “sufficiency or insufficiency” of scientific theories about common ancestry of different species. The prevalent scientific theory explaining the diversity of species is evolution; creationism is the belief that the universe was created by a higher power.

The creationist dentist, no longer satisfied with drilling teeth, has now jammed his drill up into the brains of Texas school kids, and he’s happily removing any functioning gray matter he can find. Or is that a chainsaw we see in his hands?

Addendum: The BOE subsequently ratified that preliminary vote, according to the Dallas Morning News which carries this story: Texas education board ratifies vote against focus on ‘weaknesses’ in evolution. Excerpt:

Without debate, the State Board of Education today tentatively approved new science curriculum standards that scrap a longstanding requirement that students be taught the “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution.

The action followed a meeting Thursday in which members who are aligned with social conservatives failed to muster enough votes on the 15-member board to retain the rule. Only seven Republican members backed the requirement.

So now we wait for the final vote next month. We’re still willing to bet five quatloos that the final decision will favor creationism.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Texas Education Chainsaw Massacre

  1. There doesn’t seem to be much discussion on what constitutes critical evidence and how to determine if it is valid. Is it up to each individual teacher to pull something out of their a**?

  2. …your Curmudgeon has no expertise in the field of mental health…

    Technically, perhaps not.

    But your splendid daily dissections of the ‘Discoveroids’ amply illustrate profound insight into the pathology of the hopelessly delusional Cretards.

    It’s a dirty job, and we’re glad you’re doing it. Pip pip!

  3. scripto // 23-January-2009 at 10:13 am wrote:

    There doesn’t seem to be much discussion on what constitutes critical evidence and how to determine if it is valid. Is it up to each individual teacher to pull something out of their a**?

    I’d be more worried they’ll pull it out of “Genesis”….

  4. We just added an addendum to this post. It appears that the BOE ratified yesterday’s vote.