Gail Lowe’s Anti-Science Crusade II

by Dan Quinn

Last week we looked at the anti-evolution activists Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Gail Lowe wants on official teams that later this spring will review proposed science instructional materials for Texas public schools. But Lowe has been pushing her anti-science crusade for years now.

For example, when the state board was considering new science curriculum standards in 2008-09, Lowe appointed one of three anti-evolution activists to a special advisory panel. Her appointee, Baylor University chemistry professor Charles Garner, had signed on to an anti-evolution petition from the creationist Discovery Institute. Garner and the other two anti-evolution advisers urged the state board to adopt standards that would open the door to creationist/”intelligent design” arguments in public school science classrooms. The board ultimately did just that, essentially ignoring hundreds of respected scientists and scholars — including Nobel laureates — from Texas institutions of higher education, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science who practically begged board members not to dumb down science education in Texas.

Lowe has also said on voter guides that she “strongly favors” teaching “intelligent design” (creationism) alongside evolution and creationist-claimed “weaknesses” of evolution in science classrooms. In 2003 she and three other State Board of Education members opposed the adoption of proposed new biology textbooks because the textbooks didn’t include those so-called “weaknesses” of evolution.

Lowe’s hostility to evidence-based information extends also into sex education. Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation even though more than 90 percent of Texas school districts teach abstinence-only in health classes. Yet Lowe voted for new health textbooks that don’t include a shred of medically accurate information on condoms and other forms of contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. (One textbook Lowe voted to approve instead suggested that a strategy for avoiding STDs is to “get plenty of rest” so that you make better decisions. Seriously.)

And Lowe rejects the overwhelming and growing evidence that human activities are contributing to global climate change. She even guaranteed one newspaper reporter in 2008 that she would vote against adopting any textbook that made such a connection.

In short, Gail Lowe’s record opposing the teaching of sound science in public schools is pretty clear. Her record in the debate over new social studies curriculum standards last year wasn’t any better. So why is someone who repeatedly puts her personal and political beliefs ahead of facts and sound scholarship chair of the State Board of Education?