Gov. Perry: We Teach Creationism in Texas

by Jose Medina

For Gov. Rick Perry so loved the Constitution that he was willing to ignore it.

Gov. Perry must be so wrapped up in his recently-launched presidential campaign, that he’s starting to forget the Constitution and the oath of office in which he swore to uphold it.

In a galling display of irresponsibility, Gov. Perry today once again waded into the culture wars for political gain when he told a young boy while campaigning in New Hampshire that “in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”

Gov. Perry:

A) We don’t
B) Your comments could place school districts in legal peril
C) Your comments are harmful to public education

It is outrageous that Gov. Perry would erode respect for and trust in public education in Texas, simply in order to promote his political aspirations. Texans and Texas schools are working to prepare our children for college and 21st-century jobs. Gov. Perry’s irresponsible comments wrongly suggest otherwise.

Let’s first approach Gov. Perry’s comment from the state level. There is nothing in the state science curriculum standards that calls on teachers to teach evolution alongside creationism. Nothing.

And we should remind everyone, once again, of the recently completed science material adoption, which was kept clean of creationist propaganda despite the string of evolution-deniers Gov. Perry has appointed to chair the State Board of Education.

Secondly, the federal courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism is a religious belief and it is unconstitutional to teach it as science. Gov. Perry’s full comments, according to NPR, are below:

How old do I think the earth is? You know what? I don’t have any idea. I know it’s pretty old. So it goes back a long, long way. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how old the earth is.

I hear your mom was asking about evolution and, you know, it’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it, but in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.

It is clear by his comments that Gov. Perry was equating creationism with science. Two major cases have gone through the courts in recent history that have addressed creationism. The most recent, Kitzmiller v. Dover, ended in a federal district court ruling that said creationism as science in public schools is in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. There was also the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 that found the state of Louisiana’s law requiring creationism be taught alongside science was unconstitutional.

What part of unconstitutional does Gov. Perry not get?

Suggesting to public school teachers that it is OK to teach creationism in science classes could result in litigation against a school district, as it has before.

This is yet another black eye for Texas public schools. The SBOE has in recent years done a pretty good job of making a laughingstock out of the state’s public education system. This doesn’t help.

UPDATE
TFN President Kathy Miller released the following statement in response to Gov. Perry’s comments:

Gov. Perry has once again waded into the culture wars for political gain, but without considering the harmful consequences. It is irresponsible for the leader of a state, or a presidential hopeful, to suggest to public school teachers that it is OK to teach creationism as science when such attempts have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and could result in litigation against a school district. And it is outrageous that Gov. Perry would erode respect for and trust in public education in Texas, simply in order to promote his political aspirations. Texans and Texas schools are working to prepare our children for college and 21st-century jobs. Gov. Perry’s irresponsible comments wrongly suggest otherwise.