LATE last year we wrote Texas Creationism: Meet Ken Mercer, about one of the hard-core, full-blown, flaming creationists on the Texas Board of Education (BOE). We quoted Mercer saying:
The controversial “macro” evolution was commonly understood as those major changes that could occur if one species jumped to another. For example, have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat? The most famous example of macroevolution is the Darwinian “man from an ancestral primate.”
Realizing the weakness in macroevolution, Darwinists changed the meaning. Whatever their new definition, where is the evidence for one species changing to another?
That’s just a sample of Mercer’s nonsense in that article. In a comment to that post we heard from Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who said:
Here’s hoping that Ken Mercer is also defeated. Leininger — who funds Perry, Mercer, and anyone else whose stone-age “science” and vouchers (paid for by taxpayers) for schools that won’t have to meet public school standards — makes money from people’s ignorance and gullibility. I’m running for SBOE 5 to defeat Mercer. Check out my website voterebecca.com.
A better link to Rebecca’s website is: Rebecca Bell-Metereau. We looked at it and found it uninformative regarding the issues which concern us, so we replied to her as follows:
Good to hear from you. I looked at your website. It doesn’t yet have any statements about your policy positions. As you probably figured out, we became interested in the Texas BOE because of their bone-headed opposition to evolution. The ignorance of several board members about other topics is also apparent. I’ve written often about McLeroy, Dunbar, Mercer, and Lowe. I’d be delighted to post an article about your campaign, but you’ve got to give us — and the voters — something to work with.
I’m already hoping to see Mercer defeated, and frankly, if I lived in Mercer’s district I’d vote for a road-kill armadillo instead of him. However, what we’re looking for is some genuine support for science education, and some understanding of the constitutional requirement to keep religious doctrine (including all forms of creationism) out of public schools. So let us know your positions on the issues that have been a problem for the BOE. and I’d be delighted to write about your candidacy.
This is Rebecca’s response, with a bit of bold font added by us:
Check out notes on my facebook page. Here is a longish statement of my platform. As for the issue of science, of course it should be taught as science, using scientific method to determine what can be proven and measured, not as religious opinion, which the creationists suggest. Some of my platform may not be relevant to this particular discussion, but here it is. Feel free to edit.
Your Curmudgeon looked at Rebecca’s facebook material and we looked again at her campaign website. It’s possible that we missed something, but it seems that the only thing she says about science education is in her comment, quoted above. It doesn’t directly address the creationism issue, at least, not to our satisfaction, but she’s obviously better than a road-kill armadillo — and the armadillo is way ahead of Mercer.
Because Mercer’s got to go, Rebecca’s campaign is worthy of our attention. This is the rest of Rebecca’s platform. Its generalizations don’t interest us, but ours is a narrow focus. We haven’t done any editing.
I’ve been speaking with groups and refining my platform for months, and now it’s crystal clear to me. I have three main points—simple to remember, yet with a great deal of thought, dialogue, research, and substance behind them: 1) community, 2) economy, 3) respect.
The first concept of community is a refinement of earlier ideas that kept coming to me as I talked with teachers, parents, students, and community leaders. We needed to put students, teachers, and the local community back at the center of education. The State Board of Education has been micromanaging school curriculum for almost twenty years. The results have been disastrous, putting us in 51st place in high school graduation rates in the US. Teachers and students are tied to a grim routine of preparing for Texas-based (TAKS) tests for most of the year, under the threat of firing or loss of school accreditation. Teacher creativity and independence are stifled and students suffer the consequences. The goals for education have been transformed from an enriching growth experience to a crippling process of teaching to the test with dumbed-down texts personally edited by a group of eight extremists on the State Board of Education. We must put teachers, students, and local communities at the center of education.
The second idea of economy has several parts. First, we must follow the money, how it’s being wasted, who’s paying for candidates and why, and how education should support the economy and higher education. While opponents nitpick current board members over failing to list a football game in their filing reports, an eight member majority of the fifteen-member board squanders millions of dollars on useless initiatives like abstinence-only education, which has been proven ineffective and even harmful. These extremists are in the pocket of private education advocates who don’t even believe public education is constitutional. Such campaign donors take taxpayer money for their private schools and make billions of dollars from them, while they quietly fund board members who destroy public schools in Texas and elsewhere around the country. We need a Texas State Board of Education that makes public schools an engine of the economy, coordinated with higher education and the real world of work and local communities.
The final concept, respect, is an essential value for all people. Right now my opponent ignores this fundamental value, and the board’s oversight process is broken. A perfect example of this lack of respect is my opponent’s shocking comments about giving a “spanking” to people testifying before the language curriculum review committee. Saying that hard-working professionals trying to contribute their expertise to the education of our children should be spanked is a horrible insult. This nasty talk and disrespect for the women and men who testify before the board has to stop. To suggest that these dedicated citizens deserve to be spanked is beyond the pale, and we’re not going to allow that kind of talk in the future Board of Education. We must restore a reasoned, civil, deliberative process that coordinates legislative bodies, public schools, universities, and the world of work. Let’s stop the nonsense now!
If we get more information about Rebecca’s positions on science education, we’ll let you know. Until then, she’s endorsed by your Curmudgeon. We can see the bumper strips now: “Rebecca — Better than a road-kill armadillo!”
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Thank you for your support. It is painfully obvious that we need to get rid of people like Ken Mercer and work to improve public education in Texas.
Delighted to help, Rebecca. If you add to your campaign material in a way that we’d find interesting, please let us know.
Oh boy, I can’t wait to start seeing these bumper stickers around town! I think it’s got a ring to it. As you can imagine, a candidate in Texas who expects to beat someone like Mercer has to maintain a fairly anodyne image. If I were not a political candidate, I would love to speak more freely and at greater length, alongside the dead armadillo, and thoroughly trounce the beast. I appreciate your ringing endorsement, and look forward to further posts. This one made me laugh out loud.
When I see something written like that, I can’t help but wonder if it’s simply a lack of understanding of the nature of scientific theories, or if its purpose is to shield a more sinister interpretation: “Well, since the theory of evolution isn’t ‘proven,’ we must therefore ‘teach the controversy’ ….”
Rebecca Bell-Metereau says: “This one made me laugh out loud.”
A woman who laughs at my jokes is a rare gem indeed. Now you’re up to hearty endorsement.
Longie says: “When I see something written like that …”
She’s an English teacher. I suspect that her statement, although imprecise, is well-intended.
Vagueness is the friend of politicians. I’ve had to alter my writing style to craft political statements. I hope it doesn’t have a permanent detrimental effect on my vocabulary and cognitive abilities. I assume that people will understand what I mean when I say that we need to teach and use scientific method. I suppose I need to craft better and more specific wording than this, so people will understand that of course I maintain that science has to teach evolution, a natural process supported by abundant physical evidence.
People concerned about religious beliefs or origins should consult their own religious or philosophical traditions. Belief has no role in the scientific curriculum. One doesn’t “believe” in the law of gravity or the theory of evolution. One examines scientific evidence to fill in the gaps of our knowledge and refine our understanding and explanations. Having students state their “opinions” about evolution is as absurd as having students apply quadratic equations to analysis of a literary work. Science is not about opinions or beliefs.
It is important to understand the definitions, methods, limits, and purposes of particular disciplines. Anyone with a decent educational background understands this. It is obvious that, even though Mercer has a “degree” in biology, he failed to understand his subject and the purposes of education in general.
Rebecca Bell-Metereau, you now have a Very hearty endorsement.
This excerpt from the second plank of her platform explains much of the creationist/intelligent design agenda:
“These extremists are in the pocket of private education advocates who don’t even believe public education is constitutional. Such campaign donors take taxpayer money for their private schools and make billions of dollars from them, while they quietly fund board members who destroy public schools in Texas and elsewhere around the country.”
I’ve suspected that the main impetus of the Discovery Institute is economic, not religious. They make their money providing textbooks for both home-schoolers and private, christian academies, and they probably recieve much funding from those who are profiting by trashing the image of public education.
Hey! I live in Austin… can I vote for her?
Oops! No, I’m part of district 13. Darn.
District 5 for SBOE includes the following 12 counties: Bell, Burnet, Blanco, Llano, Kendall, Gillespie, Travis (south of the river in Austin), Hays, Bexar (north of 410), Comal, Caldwell, Guadalupe,
Republicans gerrymandered District 5 and District 10 (Cynthia Dunbar’s district) to try to insure that Austin would never have a Democratic representative on the State Board of Education.
People can only vote for their district, but the board affects all of Texas. This is not a solicitation, but for your information, anyone from any district or state could contribute to a candidate through Act Blue. Texas has no limitations on individual contributions to campaigns, unlike federal elections.
Mercer has drawn more than one opponent. Tim Tuggey in San Antonio is worth a look too.
Yes, but how does he compare to a road-kill armadillo?
Rebecca Bell-Metereau asks: “Yes, but how does he [Tim Tuggey] compare to a road-kill armadillo?”
I Googled him. He’s a lawyer/lobbyist. You’re a teacher. The Curmudgeon stands firm in his endorsement.
Please correct my misspelling of armadillo or I’ll have to surrender my English teacher credentials. I swear it’s just a typo. I rilly know how to spell.
Done, Rebecca. If you like, to diminish any chance that opposition research may take your words here out of context, I can delete any of your comments you like. Just say the word.
I stand by my words but not my typos, so I leave it to you to moderate your own blog. I’ve never been a proponent of censorship. Thanks for your kind offer, though, and keep up the good and clever work.
Rebecca Bell-Metereau says: “I stand by my words …”
Okay, but if you’re unwilling to weasel around, are you really sure you’re cut out for politics?
I have looked and looked and can find nothing about Bell-Metereau’s OWN educational background. Where did she grow up, where did she go to school and where did she go to college? It seems totally bizarre to me that someone running for the state board would not post that info.
Gee Curious, I don’t see any of that info mentioned on Mercer’s re-election web site either. At least Bell-Metereau’s site shows she has vast actual experience in education. Whereas Mercer doesn’t.
Curious, you’re not very curious. Rebecca’s website mentions that she’s a professor of English at Texas State University, and that she was a Fulbright scholar. Mercer, on the other hand, is so ignorant he still thinks a cat-dog is the missing link.
I grew up on a farm in northern Indiana, and graduated from Morgan Township High School, where I was salutatorian of my class of eighteen. I have a BA and PhD from Indiana University, in English literature. I have been teaching at Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State) since 1981.
Rebecca, I suggest you add all of that to your campaign website. The absence of any mention of your IU degrees creates an opening for Cat-Dog Mercer’s operatives to pollute the blogosphere with suggestions that you’re uneducated. He’s an all-round great guy!