YOU all know that in the November general election there are some contests for the Texas State Board of Education in which we’ve been very interested. In District 5, the creationist-theocrat incumbent, Ken Mercer (pictured above facing far to the right) easily survived a GOP primary challenge back in March, and is now running against Rebecca Bell-Metereau — who won big in the contested Democrat primary.
Therefore, November promises us a blow-out election pitting the gracious and intelligent Rebecca Bell-Metereau against Ken“Dog-Cat” Mercer (he dismisses evolution by asking: “Have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat?”). We wrote about this match-up last year. See Rebecca Bell-Metereau vs Ken Mercer.
In the Community Impact Newspaper, which publishes local newspapers in eight locations around Texas, they have two articles, one about Rebecca and another about “Dog-Cat” Mercer. The articles are far more extensive than we can deal with here. We’ll give you a few excerpts from each, with bold font added by us.
First let’s look at Q&A | Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Democratic Nominee for State Board of Education, District 5. It starts with her background:
Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Democrat
* Education: Indiana University (Ph.D.)
* Experience: Professor of English and film, Texas State University (1981–present); former special assistant to the President at TSU; French interpreter for the U.S. Air Force
* Campaign website: Rebecca Bell-Metereau
This is her answer to: What is your position on the teaching of evolution?
Evolution is the accepted scientific theory that should be taught in the science classroom. People who want to include other philosophies and beliefs and theories should place those in other subject areas like religious studies or philosophy. Science is what can be observed and measured, and the theories of evolution are based on what we can find in the fossil records and what we understand of the physical universe. It doesn’t really have anything to do with people’s beliefs about origins or causes. So we need a board that understands what science is. If we do not teach students what scientific method is, they will be ill prepared for any number of jobs in medicine, biology, geology and engineering. It’s very worrisome to the business community to see that Texas is perceived as being anti-science. That’s not good for the economy, and it’s not good for the health and wellbeing of society.
This is part of her response to: What is your position on the current social studies standards?
Also, the current board has gone so far to the extreme right that they’ve kind of fallen off the edge of the flat earth. They’ve made decisions that even their own party does not understand. When I tell people that they’ve removed the word ‘democracy’ or the word ‘capitalism,’ they don’t understand that at all. When they hear they’ve taken Thomas Jefferson out as an Enlightenment thinker, they just shake their heads and think, “Well, I thought conservative values would teach our Constitution and teach us about our Founding Fathers.” But the ideologues on the board have decided that they don’t like some of the Founding Fathers, and so they are trying to rewrite history and rewrite them out of history …
And in response to: What is your view on the current conflicts over social studies standards?
What I think has happened in this last round of social studies curriculum is that they can see the writing on the wall, and they know this is their last chance to get their political views inserted into the curriculum, and so they are doing everything they can to rewrite the history, rewrite the curriculum to fit their own particular worldview.
Now let’s look at Q&A | Ken Mercer, Republican Nominee for State Board of Education, District 5 , starting with his background:
Ken Mercer, Republican (incumbent)
* Education: University of Texas; UT–San Antonio; St. Mary’s University (MBA)
* Experience: Project manager and senior software engineer; Texas House of Representatives (2003–04)
* Campaign website: Re-elect Ken Mercer
This is his answer to: What is your position on the teaching of evolution?
I get upset when the newspapers say we put religion in the textbooks. It’s a lie. I challenge every editorial board to go online — the standards are online — and find religion in astronomy, chemistry, biology. It is not there. I firmly believe kids in America have the right to raise their hands in the classroom and ask honest questions. I was rather shocked that the opposition didn’t want that. It wasn’t just evolution; it was global warming. I was shocked that in America if you’re either for or against those things, the biggest thing is they didn’t want kids to raise their hands and ask honest questions. There is not any religion in our books. I challenge anyone to go online and look for Jesus or Muhammad or Buddha or Moses or whatever, it’s not in the science books. What we do have is the right for our kids to raise their hands in class and ask honest questions, especially in the areas of evolution and global warming. … You can call it strengths and weaknesses, but we won the right for kids to ask questions in class, and that was the battle. It wasn’t religion. It was just a right to ask questions.
And in response to: What is your position on the current social studies standards?
It’s very clear to me that the people who have been arguing the standards haven’t read them. The [Thomas] Jefferson thing is a lie. Jefferson is everywhere in our history book standards. In fact he is found stronger than in any other time in our history. I think it’s a great set of standards. …
Lastly, his response to this rather long question: With mounting state and national controversy and criticism over recent social studies curriculum and allegations of ideological extremism, how will you help moderate or change the board’s image?
The biggest controversy has come from statewide editorial boards who choose to read press releases from the far left rather than coming to talk to us. Jefferson, for example, my editorial board didn’t call me. My editorial board in San Antonio wrote that Jefferson was deleted from the history books — erased — that’s a lie. Anybody can go online and see Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers. … I always say this; I’m going to give a political comment, “The far left is scared to death of a place called Texas.”
Amazing, isn’t it? Everyone is lying except Mercer. In our humble opinion, either “Dog-Cat” Mercer is the one doing the lying, or else he has no clue about what he and the Board have done. It seems that he knows nothing about anything in the science curriculum, and we think the Board would be well rid of him.
As we’ve said before, if we were voting in District 5, we’d choose a road-kill armadillo instead of Mercer, and Rebecca is far better than a road-kill armadillo. She’s the easy choice in this election.
Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.