Texas — Editorial on “Strengths and Weaknesses”

WE FOUND an editorial in the Houston Chronicle: Faith in science, with a sub-headline that forthrightly states: “Creationists on the State Board of Education must stop trying to undermine the teaching of evolution.”

Here are some excerpts, with bold added for Curmudgeonly emphasis:

The focus of attention in this, the first overhaul of the science curriculum in over a decade, is not on the teaching of creationism, which has been rebuffed by several courts. It is on whether the curriculum will continue to include teaching on the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories, including evolution.

It sounds reasonable. Who’s against fair and balanced? But critics are alarmed that this is the latest chapter in what has become a national strategy of evolution’s foes — a “teach the controversy” approach, whereby religion is propounded under the guise of scientific inquiry.

That pretty well lays it out. So where are we?

Given the recent comments of both the chairman and the vice chairman of the board, there is ample reason for alarm. As reported by The New York Times, the chairman, Don McLeroy, a Bryan dentist, described the debate as being between two systems of science.

“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system,” he said. He rejects evolution and believes the Earth is just a few thousand years old, but he insisted his rejection was not based on religious grounds.

If heaven is filled with people like that (he’s either a liar or an ignoramus), who would want to go there? Moving along:

Vice Chairman David Bradley, R-Beaumont, told the Chronicle, “Evolution is not a fact. Evolution is a theory and, as such, cannot be proved. Students need to be able to jump to their own conclusions.”

Right. Students need to reach their own conclusions about chemistry and physics too.

Hey, school board! That’s what professional researchers do — you know, people with doctorates in the relevant field. High school students don’t know how to reach “their own conclusions” about science. That’s why they’re in school! That’s why we call them students!

One more excerpt:

McLeroy and Bradley are not alone in their beliefs. Seven of the 15 members, one short of a majority, believe in intelligent design, as does Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who unilaterally appointed McLeroy to chair the board last summer a few weeks after the Legislature disbanded.

[…]

All people are entitled to their private religious beliefs, but nobody is entitled to use the state’s public education system to promote them. What chance do Texas students have of competing in the 21st century if their learning of science is warped and stunted by such benighted leadership?

No chance. None at all. But let’s await the Board’s decision.

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One response to “Texas — Editorial on “Strengths and Weaknesses”

  1. Curmudgeon, you say

    “High school students don’t know how to reach “their own conclusions” about science. That’s why they’re in school! That’s why we call them students!”

    That reminded me of Rush Limbaugh’s argument against having students critically study history, when he said,

    “These kids don’t know beans and that’s the key. That’s why they’re called students. . . .”

    See http://curricublog.org/2008/06/10/why-called-students/