WE’VE PREVIOUSLY described the Texas creationism problem as hydra-headed, because it has so many separate facets. The two indented paragraphs which follow are background material, which you can skip if you’ve been following events in Texas.
Don McLeroy is the creationist dentist whom Governor Perry has just re-appointed to another term as chairman of the Texas Board of Education (BOE). McLeroy and his creationist-dominated BOE seem determined to draft a science curriculum on 27 March that will, one way or another, assure the teaching of creationism in Texas science classes.
Also, as we reported here: Texas Creationism: Now a Two-Front War, creationists in the Texas legislature have opened a second front by introducing H.B. 4224 in the Texas House of Representatives. It’s one of those anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bills modeled after the misleadingly-named Academic Freedom Act, promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
So that’s the creationism situation in the Texas governor’s office, the BOE, and maybe the legislature. But now that state’s creationism epidemic may spread to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board , which officially certifies the degrees offered by Texas colleges and universities.
Last week the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reported: Legislative salvation for the ICR? They said:
House Bill 2800 [corrected link], introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on March 9, 2009, would, if enacted, in effect exempt institutions such as the Institute for Creation Research’s graduate school from Texas’s regulations governing degree-granting institutions. The bill’s sole sponsor is Leo Berman (R-District 6), a member of the House Higher Education Committee. A member of NCSE called Berman’s office to ask whether the bill would apply to the ICR’s graduate school; a staffer answered that he thought that it would, adding that he believed that the bill’s objective was to aid institutions that want to teach creation science or intelligent design. Berman himself seems not to have offered any public statement about HB 2800 so far.
We didn’t post about this because the NCSE report was so thorough that there was nothing we could add at the time. Now, however, the website of Fox News has a story on this situation: Bill Would Allow Texas School to Grant Master’s Degree in Science for Creationism. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
A Texas legislator is waging a war of biblical proportions against the science and education communities in the Lone Star State as he fights for a bill that would allow a private school that teaches creationism to grant a Master of Science degree in the subject.
State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) proposed House Bill 2800 when he learned that The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), a private institution that specializes in the education and research of biblical creationism, was not able to receive a certificate of authority from Texas’ Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master of Science degrees.
Fox News doesn’t beat around the bush. Let’s read on:
HB 2800 does not specifically name ICR; it would allow any institution that meets its criteria to be exempt from the board’s authority. But Berman says ICR was the inspiration for the bill because he feels creationism is as scientific as evolution and should be granted equal weight in the educational community.
Berman doesn’t beat around the bush either. At least he’s clear about his motives. That’s unusual for a creationist politician. In fact, he’s even clearer than that:
“I don’t believe I came from a salamander that crawled out of a swamp millions of years ago,” Berman told FOXNews.com. “I do believe in creationism. I do believe there are gaps in evolution.
“But when you ask someone who believes in evolution, if you ask one of the elitists who believes in evolution about the gaps, they’ll tell you that the debate is over, that there is no debate, evolution is the thing, it’s the only way to go.”
There’s one thing to be said in favor of full-blown creationism — it’s not difficult to diagnose. If you want to know more about this brilliant lawmaker, here’s Leo Berman‘s page at the website of the Texas Legislature.
Another excerpt from Fox News:
“This would open the door to other fly-by-night organizations that come in and want to award degrees in our state, because the bill is highly generalized,” said Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science. “Right now, we don’t have this problem in Texas. Texas is not a center for degree mills, because our laws allow only the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to approve the granting of graduate degrees.”
This is a link to Schafersman’s website: Texas Citizens for Science. Moving along:
“It would certainly open the door to all kinds of chicanery,” says Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. “I mean, all you have to do, it looks to me from the bill, is start a non-profit organization, don’t take any federal or state money, and then offer degrees in any fool subject you want.”.
This is a link to Eugenie Scott’s website: National Center for Science Education. We continue with the Fox article:
HB 2800 would pave the way for institutions like ICR to grant science degrees equal to those of other Texas universities. And that possibility has critics fuming.
“Their science education degrees are greatly inferior to those at, say, the University of Texas or Baylor University or even a good community college, frankly,” says Scott. “Teaching that the Earth is only 10,000 years old is a little irregular in modern science.”
There’s more at the Fox News article. Much more. Click over there and read it all. And then perhaps you’ll have a greater understanding of the title for our post.
From your Curmudgeon’s viewpoint, it appears that Texas is on the verge of becoming completely unhinged.
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