Question: What do you do if you are appointed to a position — say, to an expert curriculum review panel — for which you have no relevant credentials or qualifications?
Answer: Make up some fancy-sounding credentials.
That appears to be what State Board of Education-appointed “expert” David Barton has done. As readers of TFN Insider know, Barton has no advanced degree in history or any related field and has never held a faculty position at a college or university. But he does get quoted in the news a lot, and it must get pretty embarrassing to tell reporters that you are qualified because you run a political advocacy group and once served as vice chair of the Texas Republican Party. So Barton is now telling reporters that he’s “certified as an expert historian in state and federal courts.”
Sounds impressive, I guess. But what is a certified court historian? I asked my friend Ed Darrell, who is an attorney, former speech writer and currently teaches social studies in the Dallas-area (and has a great blog called Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub). Ed’s not buying it:
There’s no certification process, but a person could be qualified as an expert for expert witness purposes, similar to the experts in the creationism trials.
I don’t think Barton could come close to qualifying as an expert in history.
First, he doesn’t hold a degree in the area.
Second, he has no professional training in the area.
Third, he doesn’t publish in peer-reviewed journals in the area.
Fourth, he doesn’t bother with the professional associations in history.
I can’t think of a single area in which Barton would qualify. But the ultimate test would be a case where he was accepted as an expert. Is there such a case?
Listen up, all you aspiring historians. Quit wasting your time in graduate school, and just convince a court to certify you. You might not get an job at a prestigious university, but the State Board of Education will always need “experts.” It worked for Barton.