In TFN News Clips (subscribe here) last week, we included a piece from the Christian Science Monitor about efforts by creationists to pass so-called “academic freedom” bills in various states. The bills provide legal support for teachers who challenge evolution with creationist arguments in their public school science classrooms. Texas has no such law (yet).
In any case, we failed to note a choice quote from Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station. The story explained that during the board’s debate on new science standards in January, McLeroy succeeded in passing a particular anti-evolution amendment to the draft document.
“That shocked a lot of people,” says the chairman, Don McLeroy, a self-identified “young earth creationist.” But Mr. McLeroy insists such efforts are well within the law. “It’s certainly not a religious standard…. People are probably opposed to [the new language] for ideological reasons.”
Well, it’s certainly true that people were shocked — shocked that a majority of state board members had somehow accepted the pseudoscientific babble the good dentist offered as arguments for the amendment. (For more on those arguments, see an earlier post here.) Interestingly, McLeroy had declined a request from some board members to have scientists in the audience explain the implications of his and other amendments being offered. Scientists were appalled, as the Houston Chronicle noted:
Also added to the proposed standards by board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, is an amendment that directs science teachers and students to “describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”
They are asking students to explain something that does not exist, said David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner.
“This new proposed language is absurd. It shows very clearly why the board should not be rewriting the science standards, especially when they introduce new language that has not even been reviewed by a single science expert,” Hillis said.
But the real howler is the second part of McLeroy’s quote:
“It’s certainly not a religious standard…. People are probably opposed to [the new language] for ideological reasons.”
Oh, do tell. Physician, heal thyself.
The board will take a final vote on the standards in March. Let state board members know that you want them to support a 21st-century science education for Texas kids. Find out how here.