Are Texas Schools Going Insane?

In The New American magazine, which says it’s published twice a month, we found this item: Texas School Board Debates Adding Books With Alternatives to Evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Because the school district does not have the finances to purchase new textbooks, the board is examining the standards of science e-books. The electronic sources would be used alongside the textbooks.

Nothing wrong about a little frugality, but there’s more to the story. The New American then quotes a newspaper (with a link that doesn’t work) and they claim that it says:

Although science materials for several grades are up for consideration, most of the debate is expected to center on high school biology books and their coverage of evolution. [Hee hee!] The board’s social conservative bloc has been adamant that the e-books present both the evidence for and against key principles of Darwin — and a conservative think tank that has pushed for critical analysis of Darwin’s theories [Who could that be?] is arguing that the e-books generally fail to cover all sides of the various issues.

Sounds like old times! After that The New American tells us:

Supplemental materials recommended by Education Commissioner Robert Scott do not adequately address “alternatives to evolution,” note some conservatives. [Scott must be one of those hell-bound Darwinists!] As currently none of the books being considered includes creationism, voting against the recommended reading materials would be viewed as a victory in the effort to include evolution alternatives in science education.

Gotta have those evolution alternatives! The story continues:

Thus far, six of the 15 members on the school board have asserted that “intelligent design” has a place in the curriculum. [That’s nine sane people and six droolers!] Leading the school board is Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, a former biology teacher who refutes the theory of evolution. Proudly one of the most conservative members on the board, Cargill observed, “Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board [Ooooooooooooh! They’re true!], so we have to fight for two votes.”

The woman is obviously a genius. Let’s read on:

By the end of the day today, the school board will vote on which materials to adopt. If the supplemental materials recommended by Education Commissioner Robert Scott are rejected, the vote will be a victory for the conservatives.

Who will win the vote — Scott or the droolers? Here’s one last excerpt:

Regardless of which e-books are adopted, the school districts are not required to purchase them; however, a majority of districts are expected to do so, as the e-books will likely help schools reach achievement requirements on standardized tests.

Oh wait — this is at the end:

(For an update on the board’s decision, click here.)

But their link doesn’t go anywhere, so maybe we’ll never know how things work out in Texas. If you learn how the drama ends, dear reader, please let us know.

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25 responses to “Are Texas Schools Going Insane?

  1. Happy ending? (Btw, the previous article to that one was “Obama’s Communist Connections Revisited”

    I get a funny feeling that The New American didn’t really like this outcome. But am I unusual in finding the coupling of dogmas in the original story disturbing? “Leading the school board is Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, a former biology teacher who refutes the theory of evolution. Proudly one of the most conservative members on the board, Cargill observed, “Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes.” ” Perhaps she only means theologically conservative, but I doubt it

  2. As a former Texan, my response to the title of this post was an automatic, “Were they ever sane?

  3. Thanks for the happy ending, Paul Braterman.

  4. But there will be an endless series of sequels…

  5. Note the date of publication: July 22, 2011.

  6. The New American is of course the magazine of the John Birch Society,

  7. Thanks, Glenn Branch. How in the world did Google show me that? My news sweeps are supposed to show me stuff no later than the last week.

  8. Charley Horse X

    I knew it was an old article….but was reminded of this…

    Don McLeroy: “Someone has to stand up to experts!” – YouTube

  9. Charley Horse X

    If you haven’t seen this documentary… can watch for free at It is well worth the time…excellent.

  10. Pedant that I am, I can only remark that Barbara Cargill has not “refuted” the theory of evolution. She denied it. She has no doubt spoken against it. She has undeniably opposed it; she has very likely misrepresented and distorted it; she has tried to prevent its being taught, or at least its being taught as the only scientific explanation for the origin of species. All that, but she has not “refuted” it.

    She apparently thinks that what she calls “conservative Christians” are necessarily Biblical creationists, and vice-versa, which is not true. Her entire world-view consists, apparently, of evidence-free assertions which she insists on trying to impose on others. She is, in short, an ignorant bigot.

    The rest is hardly worth the uttering. If the board she chaired were to attempt to impose creationism under any name or by any means on the Texas school curriculum, whatever legal advisors the Board had would be delinquent if they did not state baldly that such a course would be unconstitutional, and that the Board would face an immediate and successful lawsuit. Very likely, a court with the Supreme Court and other precedents before it, would impose punitive and exemplary damages, so plain and clear is the principle.Even to allow “supplementary” texts with that intent would end in disaster, as the Dover School Board found. It would appear that no such attempt was ever made.

    Who cares? 2011, yet. A blast from the past. Still, I wonder what Ms Cargill is doing now, and whether she holds any public office. Is she still alive, even? It might be instructive, even amusing, to find out. I have no idea, but I’m willing to bet that some time after this affaire she retired to private life, Cincinnatus returning to the plough, only not victorious. She can possibly still be heard at church describing her struggles against the worldly and the wicked. Regrettably, most likely there are still a few who will listen.

  11. @Dave Luckett: Barbara Cargill is still on the Texas state board of education, although she did not run for re-election in 2020 and her term expires on January 1, 2021.

  12. Oh great. My state can’t go 10 years without embarrassing itself in this way? Get mythology out of science, dammit (and history while you’re at it).

  13. Michael Fugate and Glenn Branch: Thank you for that. I wouldn’t know where to look. She was a “science educator”? She ran a summer “science camp”?? She taught biology???

    , why not have Joe Stalin teach ethics? Archie Bunker lecture in philosophy? Ayn Rand on socialist theory? Al Capone on corporate organisation?

  14. What a curious response each of you has to the assemblage of abstruse desires and documents of passionate discourse that falls as flat as [*flatulence*] out of baggy protests of pedantic scholars just having digested a spoiled meal ridden by a bacteria of gut-wrenching tremors of pseudo-intelligent postures of the vanity of fools and the mirrored smiles of would-be politicians.
    So take it down to it being a confederate of one of the great insults to human decency where the wearing of sunglasses is one of the great insults to human decency when talking to another person.
    Not when engaging another person when simply passing by and saying a short hello and waving a hand in greeting, or when occupied in winter or summer activities and the glare from the sky is a constant, but when you stop to converse – and what an accomplishment this is of itself especially with a stranger or a recent acquaintance, given our emotional and psychological dependence on the so-called social networks of the internet – and you do not as a gesture of sociability remove your sunglasses so that the other person can look into your eyes to see you as simply another person who just wants to say, without any preconception, of how very nice it is to see you, then you have just made a statement of how very vain, thoughtless, and shallow you are.
    There is a redemption of sorrow that otherwise bestrews our intelligence with the falsehoods of specious inquiry that has become so favorable to the academics of foppish fools.

  15. @DaveL: “why not have ….”

  16. chris schilling

    @Dave L says “why not have Joe Stalin teach ethics?”

    Or Stephen C. Meyer teach philosophy of science?

    (Oh, yeah, I forgot…)

  17. I’m kind of surprised the gee-oh-pee didn’t try to establish a national creationism mandate while they controlled the presidency and both houses for two years. I mean, you don’t appoint a homeschooled Amway heiress as Secretary of Education because you want to *improve* the education system.

  18. Will overturning Kitzmiller v Dover be the next Supreme Court target, after Roe v Wade? After all, Kitzmiller was only taken to the District Court level, and the School Board lost,in part, because of their own incompetence. And Strict Constructionists could well argue that the Board’s motivation, and the scientific credibility of ID and of Creationism, were none of the Court’s business

  19. @Paul Braterman
    I am not a lawyer, but as I understand American courts, it is not a matter of retrying a settled case. Roe and Kitzmiller have been closed. What the Supreme Court could do is to make a different decision in a new case. In the case of K, it was never decided in an appellate court, so there is no precedent in American law involved. It is just a matter that the decision of Jones was so well argued that any
    lawyer would have to counsel a school
    board to avoid acting the same way. But any court could simply ignore K.
    The one decision which is binding is Edwards v Aguillard. The Supreme
    Court has the freedom to ignore
    anything decided in any court. Edwards had the dissenting opinion by Scalia which might be the basis for a different outcome in a new case. But I’m sure that any lawyer would make sure that Scalia’s argument was addressed. But Supreme Court justices are clever people. and it should be a piece of cake to think up a new argument to support the desired conclusion.

  20. Paul Braterman asks: “Will overturning Kitzmiller v Dover be the next Supreme Court target, after Roe v Wade?”

    I very much doubt it, notwithstanding some creationist idiot’s babbling. It was clearly established that intelligent design isn’t science (although some lawyer may want to take another shot at that), but once it’s established that creationism — in all its forms — is a religious doctrine, the courts have no choice. The separation of government and religion is as solid as any other Constitutional principle.

    Article VI says: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    That term “oath or affirmation” refers to a secular oath, which is permitted in the courts.

    Besides that, the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    And if that’s not enough, the Nineth Amendment says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    And the Tenth Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

  21. @SC
    You underestimate the ability of lawyers to creatively interpret even the clearest of language.

  22. We’re getting a new kitchen backsplash tiles installed. A brief conversation ensued when I told him I was a geologist. The tile guy referenced almost immediately Ken Hovind. ………. Yesterday I got the whole treatment when he brought Ken up again . Speaking with him revealed as predicted here that
    science is a religion, Ken was imprisoned for challenging authority in science, creationists have as much scientific evidence as scientists regarding earth history and evolution and that I was indoctrinated when I studied for my two geology degrees. He is friendly and sincere but is a total crackpot. He thinks he is religious (of course). He thinks our discussion was a “debate”, a concept I quickly disavowed. The short answer is do not engage.
    He’s here again today. I’m in my study with the door closed…. EGAD !!!!!
    Welcome to my Texas home you guys.

  23. @TomS, ofc Kitzmiller itself will not be revisited. What I meant was that a similar case a very few years from now might have a different outcome. The argument would be that in ruling on the scientific validity of DI, or of the “orchard theory”, or whatever, the courts overstepped. The Supreme Court is not bound by any precedent,not even its own; Trump hasbeen packing the courts at *all* levels (McConnell having blocked numerous nominations from consideration,not just Garland’s), and “academic freedom” will be the next chunk of red meat, after abortion.

    IMO, Roe v Wade was a matter of the politicians having allowed the courts to do what was clearly needed, but did not want to take the political risk of doing themselves. I am not optimistic about future courts showing similar wisdom

  24. Michael Fugate

    I know there are very sincere people out there, but I worry about people over peddling their piety – what are they hiding?
    When I was teaching high school, the school board was scammed by a person they hired as a football coach solely on his Christian testimony. He had no experience as a coach and had no teaching qualifications the school needed. He did nothing all day and held practices during times forbidden by the state. He bribed kids with food. All the assistant coaches resigned in protest over the mess.

    If Barbara were such a magnificent teacher, why did she quit and why is she a creationist?