The last time we wrote about this situation was three weeks ago: Arizona Education Election — What Happened? Arizona’s current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, a flaming creationist, was in a contested primary election — and she was defeated by Frank Riggs, who was also reported to be a creationist. Riggs will face Democrat Kathy Hoffman in the general election.
Meanwhile, Diane is still in office and still making headlines — like this one: Douglas’ Office Defends Creationist on Panel: Christianity Not a ‘Fringe View’. It appears in the Phoenix New Times of Phoenix, Arizona, the state capital. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Diane Douglas’ office is defending her decision to appoint a young-earth creationist to help review and change state education standards on evolution. [L]ast week, Douglas, the Arizona superintendent, tapped Arizona Origin Science Association President Joseph Kezele, who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible’s Genesis narrative, for an August 30 working group that finalized the evolution science standards.
Brilliant choice, Kathy! The newspaper says:
[T]he superintendent’s chief of staff, Michael Bradley, said, “We wanted to include a wide variety of views so that we’d get the best product possible.” [Hee hee!] When asked whether it was right to give a role at the Department of Education to a person with fringe views, Bradley argued that Kezele represents a religious constituency. “We wouldn’t consider Christianity a fringe view,” Bradley said. He added that Christian religious beliefs are widely held by a broad segment of Americans.
What’s wrong with that? The news story goes on:
Kezele, a biology instructor at Arizona Christian University [Ooooooooooooh!], says that scientific evidence supports his beliefs that the planet is just 6,000 years old and that teenage dinosaurs were on board Noah’s Ark.
We don’t need to say anything, do we? Let’s just continue:
During the working group meeting, Kezele convinced the seven other members of the working group to weaken the state evolution standards in at least one instance. They changed a reference to evolution as “the” explanation for the unity and diversity of life to “an” explanation.
Good move! Hey — evolution is just a theory. Let’s read on:
Douglas must now present the science standards for the approval of the State Board of Education. It will be one of the last duties she performs as superintendent before leaving office at the end of December.
We don’t have any information about the views of the State Board. Here’s another excerpt:
As superintendent, Douglas has expressed her belief that creationism and intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in science classrooms. Riggs, in a recent interview, said that he believes evolution to be “proven scientific fact,” and supports teaching it in classrooms.
Huh? That’s not what was reported earlier when we wrote Arizona Education Candidates, Many Creationists. If he’s changed his mind, it’s certainly welcome. A bit more from the news article:
Advocates of science-based education reacted with alarm after Phoenix New Times reported the news of Kezele’s appointment on September 13. “I was astonished,” said Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education.
NCSE wrote about that last week — see Evolution, and now climate change, under attack in Arizona.
The rest of the Phoenix New Times article is about revisions in the standards pertaining to climate change, beginning with:
In the latest draft, several references to climate change in the high school earth and space science standards were deleted.
We’ll let you click over there for that information. And so, dear reader, we leave Arizona. It’s a crazy place now, but after there’s a new Superintendent, things may change. We shall see.
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