New Jersey: A Creationist Education Commissioner?

REMEMBER the big news from a few months ago? This was a typical headline from 04 November 2009: Republicans Win Governor’s Races in New Jersey, Virginia. That story said:

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie beat out Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, even though Obama campaigned heavily for the incumbent in the closing days of the race and the state has not elected a Republican governor since 1993.

Okay, that was then. Now flash forward to today. The Newark Star-Ledger, the most widely circulated newspaper in New Jersey, has an editorial which urges Confirm Bret Schundler as N.J.’s commissioner of education.

Who is Bret Schundler? According to Wikipedia:

Bret D. Schundler (born January 14, 1959 in Colonia, New Jersey) is an American politician from New Jersey. He was the mayor of Jersey City from 1992 until 2001. Schundler was the city’s first Republican mayor since 1917. He was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey in 2001, and tried again for the same post in 2005, but failed to secure the Republican nomination. Prior to his first run for mayor, Schundler was a Democrat. Schundler is currently the chief operating officer of The King’s College, a Christian liberal arts college in New York City.

Okay, now what does the Newark Star-Ledger have to say? Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee couldn’t bring themselves to vote in favor of Bret Schundler’s confirmation as commissioner of education this week. So they punted instead, moving the issue to the full Senate without a recommendation.

That’s just politics. What about creationism? What kind of a Commissioner of Education did Governor Christie appoint? Let’s read on:

During his 2001 campaign for governor, Schundler won support from the Christian Coalition after he assured them on a range of issues. He supported voluntary prayer in public schools. He supported sex education programs that “stress abstinence rather than safe sex.” He opposed teaching that homosexuality is an “acceptable” lifestyle.

He’s an all-too-familiar type. But is he also a creationist? We continue:

He believes that schools should be allowed to teach “intelligent design” alongside evolution.

“I think we should teach evolution, but I wouldn’t tell a district you can’t raise additional questions,” he said yesterday. “People should be humble and let science lead where it leads, and not presume that questions are settled.”

Creationists should take their own advice and practice a bit of humility when it comes to science, about which they know nothing. Here’s more from the editorial:

You can see the danger. If Schundler pushes any of this as commissioner, he’s sure to provoke endless arguments that will distract him from the job of improving the schools.

He says he gets that, that he will follow the governor’s lead on policy, and that his real passion is to help children learn.

In your Curmudgeon’s experience, creationist politicians are utterly without honor about such things; they shamelessly lie to conceal their theocratic motives. But we’re always hoping for an exception. Perhaps Schundler will be the one.

This is how the editorial ends:

Confirm the man — he’s the governor’s choice. But cross your fingers.

The first sentence would normally make sense, but in this case it’s terrible advice. The second sentence is just plain stupid. But remember: We’re talking about New Jersey.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “New Jersey: A Creationist Education Commissioner?

  1. We Are DOOMED!

  2. A “humble” American right-wing panderer to the Religious Reich?

    (giggle. . . )


  3. Hey, I lived in NJ for 24 years!

    Speaking of passion to help children (& adults) learn, as you know, my passion is to help rank & file evolution deniers (the ~1/2 who aren’t beyond hope) from being exploited by relentless anti-science activists.

    When a politician mindlessly repeats some “it’s fair to teach ther controversy” line my first guess (or hope) if that they are simply misled by activists. I doubt that most of these people even realize that they are giving a free pass to all sorts of quacks who have not earned the right to teach anything, let alone deliberately mislead students. But there’s one way to find out if they’re just misled or in on the scam, and that’s to ask them the hard questions.

    Curmudgeon: “In your Curmudgeon’s experience, creationist politicians are utterly without honor about such things; they shamelessly lie to conceal their theocratic motives.”

    Jeez, after Dover why should it take anything more than advocating “teach the controversy” to reveal theocratic motives – even when they’re not that, but mere cluelessness? If Republican politicians have anything to lie about, it’s a private acceptance of evolution that might not be good for votes. Conversely I have to worry about Democrats who do concede evolution before the election, but would give activists a free pass once in office.

  4. As a son of New Jersey, I feel a letter to the editor coming on….

  5. Frank J says: “Hey, I lived in NJ for 24 years!”

    As I’ve always suspected.

  6. Come on Curm, it’s not nice to poke a man while he’s recovering from an anti-creationist rant, and we all have to come from somewhere. Even NJ must have its good guys. I hope.

    Frank, you’re a good guy right?

  7. Tundra Boy says: “Come on Curm, it’s not nice to poke a man while he’s recovering from an anti-creationist rant …”

    Hey, I have Ronda Storms and the whole Florida Ark in my state. And before me, three generations of my Curmudgeonly ancestors came from Louisiana — one crossed the border and had a business in Dallas. So it’s most enjoyable teasing others.

  8. bsharp: “Frank, you’re a good guy right?”

    Pardon the OT comment, but I was in NJ when Saturday Night Live had the regular Joe Piscopo “I’m from Jersey” routine. As a chemist I especially identified with the “Plutonium Chloride” spoof of the “better living through chemistry” ads (the slogan ranks with “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile” in terms of “what were they thinking?”). I confess to enjoying the spoof, even though it reinforced public misconceptions of chemistry.

  9. New Jersey was a Worldwide Trending Topic on Twitter today

  10. We need Bret Shundler to force fiscal restraint onto the administrations and teachers union.

    [Massive edit to delete irrelevant political message.]

  11. @elizabeth, rather irrelevant to our discussion here and probably not very useful in helping her reach the people in New Jersey who might be able to do something about her complaints.

  12. @Elizabeth

    That’s certainly what I want in a politician. But I also want some science literacy. If they don’t understand the science, they need to just admit that the prudent thing is to defer to the scientists themselves, not a radical fringe group of activists who do nothing but spin cool, but seriously misleading sound bites.

    As for NJ, in ’91 I moved back to my birth state of PA, ~1 hour drive from Dover. So Rick “Illiberal Education” Santorum was my senator for both of his terms.