Saturday afternoon, a Chinese astronaut orbiting Earth made his nation’s first spacewalk. Chinese stopped to watch television screens broadcast this new leap forward in their nation’s scientific advancement. A report two years ago revealed that, while China (as Education Week reported) “suffers from a large disparity between the quality of education in relatively advanced urban areas and poorer, rural communities, and from a system that encourages relatively rigid teaching methods,” the United States still could learn from the Chinese when it comes to science education:
China uses a dramatically different approach to building students’ mathematical and science skills from the United States’, with strong national standards, a structured progression from easy to difficult subject matter, and extensive teacher training serving as core tenets of the communist country’s educational system.
Critics will, of course, focus on the line noting that China is a communist country (which it is, nominally if not in reality). But they will miss the point. Other developing nations, such as India, as well as the rest of the developed world have also been focusing heavily on giving their students a sound science education.
Back in the United States, creationists who control the Texas… Read More
Not everyone is happy with the draft of curriculum standards submitted by Texas science teachers yesterday. Jonathan Saenz of the Free Market Foundation is not buying the crazy idea these teachers are pushing — that state science standards should focus on, you know, science and not a bunch of phony “weaknesses” of evolution. Saenz tells the Dallas Morning News it is
“outrageous that these educrats have expelled the truth from state standards that have been in place for over 20 years.”
Psst… Jonathan, the recommendation came from classroom science teachers. If there are any “educrats” in Austin trying to muck with science standards, it’s your creationist buddies on the State Board of Education.
(And by the way, shouldn’t you be in Alaska with the rest of the Free Market staff trying to block the investigation of Sarah Palin? I guess someone has to stay behind to sue school districts.)… Read More
It’s bad enough that anti-science extremists are now calling the shots on the Texas State Board of Education. It’s true parody, however, when the state board’s chairman — a dentist — pretends to be an evolutionary biologist. Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, whom Gov. Rick Perry named as state board chairman last year, has written an opinion piece in which he argues that science should include supernatural explanations. By this, of course, McLeroy — a creationist — means that science should include the study of how God created life.
If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truth — not a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.
Science must limit itself to testable explanations not natural explanations. Then the supernaturalist will be just as free as the naturalist to make testable explanations of natural phenomena. The view with the best explanation of the empirical evidence should prevail.
One hardly knows where to begin.
The looming education battle in Texas over evolution and creationism moved closer today, with supporters of sound science on the offensive. The Texas Education Agency today posted proposed new science curriculum standards for grades K-12, crafted by teacher work groups, for public schools. As the Texas Freedom Network reports in a press release, the proposed standards remove unscientific language (“strengths and weaknesses”) in the current standards that creationists have abused to attack the science behind evolution. The new standards also include language that would block the teaching of supernatural and religious concepts — such as “intelligent design”/creationism — in public school science classes. From the TFN press release:
The president of the Texas Freedom Network is praising proposed new public school science curriculum standards that put the interests of students above politics in Texas classrooms. The proposed standards are the product of official Texas Education Agency work groups made up of teachers and academics nominated by State Board of Education members.
“These work groups have crafted solid standards that provide a clear road map to a 21st-century science education for Texas students,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “These common-sense standards respect the right… Read More
A Roman Catholic bishop is telling a prominent far-right group to look elsewhere for congregations willing to break the law by promoting partisan politics from the pulpit during this year’s general election campaign. Talk to Action has more here.
The Texas Freedom Network has been a leading voice in exposing far-right efforts to drag our houses of worship into partisan politics through groups such as the Texas Restoration Project. A TFN Education Fund report in 2006 took a close look at the Texas Restoration Project’s ties to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican Party. The Restoration Project is still active, with plans for another so-called “Pastors’ Policy Briefing” (again featuring Gov. Perry) on Oct. 9-10 in Austin. These briefings bring hundreds of conservative pastors and their spouses (free of charge) to hear Gov. Perry and a string of pooh-bahs rail against separation of church and state, gay men and lesbians, reproductive rights for women and other favorite demons of the religious right.… Read More