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A couple of short notes on linguistics today:

The New York Times has an interesting column suggesting we drop the use of the words “Darwin,” “Darwinism” and “Darwinian.” The columnist believes using such words is “grossly misleading.”

It suggests that Darwin was the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of evolutionary biology, and that the subject hasn’t changed much in the 149 years since the publication of the “Origin.”

He wasn’t, and it has. Although several of his ideas — natural and sexual selection among them — remain cornerstones of modern evolutionary biology, the field as a whole has been transformed. If we were to go back in a time machine and fetch him to the present day, he’d find much of evolutionary biology unintelligible — at least until he’d had time to study genetics, statistics and computer science.

In a bit stranger news, a Greek court has ruled that gay rights organizations can still use the word “lesbian” in a case brought by residents of the island of Lesbos that sought to bar such.… Read More

Oh, Kansas. Why must you share our suffering so?

As Texans with our own dysfunctional and often wacky State Board of Education, it’s easy for us to sympathize with Kansans, who are facing elections to their own tenuously sane state board this year.

Unfortunately, Kansans won’t have many of the moderates currently leading the board to re-elect, as they are stepping down — and far-right politicians and interest groups are ravenous to regain control by picking up the moderates’ seats.

Out of the five seats up for election this year (the board is composed of ten members total), two races have candidates who are explicitly far to the right of the mainstream: Republicans Dennis Hedke, Alan Detrich and Robert Meissner (who’s a dentist; what’s with dentists on state boards of education?). Hedke is involved with the conservative Americans for Prosperity’s tour touting “global warming alarmism.” Meissner is . . . well, let’s just let him speak for himself:

“As stated in the past, if the science community can come to a consensus as to the scientific credibility of alternative theories as to origin, then I would… Read More

Subscribers to TFN Daily News Clips (subscription is free) have been reading more about San Antonio mega-pastor John Hagee in recent months. Hagee has been an increasingly influential leader in the religous-right movement and in building evangelical support for Israel through his Christians United for Israel group. Then shortly after he endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain this spring, bloggers and other journalists publicized numerous anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic statements Hagee has made in the past. McCain hesitated, then rejected Hagee’s support. Now, writes TIME magazine, Jewish groups who welcome support for Israel are also sorting through their relationship with Hagee.

Writer Frederck Clarkson takes a look at Hagee’s “scramble to recover the mainsream legitimacy that he and his organization have so stunningly lost in recent months.” The question is whether or not Hagee’s attempt at an “extreme makeover” will work.… Read More

The Houston Chronicle has an excellent wrap up of last Friday’s decision by the State Board of Education to adopt vague, very general guidelines for public school Bible classes in Texas. TFN Daily News Clips includes links to other stories about the state board’s action. (Click here to subscribe to TFN Daily News Clips. News Clips offers a convenient digest of news articles and editorials involving religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.)

As we have reported, the state board refused to give local school districts specific curriculum standards that would guide them in developing legally appropriate and academically useful classes about the Bible’s influence in history and literature. (For more background on the issue, click here.) The legal fallout from the board’s decision will come later as local school districts struggle with how to develop these courses on their own.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report in 2006 that details what already happens… Read More

  As we feared, the Texas State Board of Education today voted 10-5 to adopt vague, very general guidelines for Bible classes that public schools may teach as electives throughout the state. Read here for background about the issue. The Texas Freedom Network has also released two statements to the press. 

Statement from TFN Deputy Director Ryan Valentine Read More

Lauren McGaughy

"We're gonna worry about the bathroom bill? We're not going to have a bathroom to go to!" -Ken King on looking for extra public ed $ #txlege

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