Search results for cynthia dunbar

4:04: Ralph Seelke is up, introducing himself as the grandson of a Texas cotton farmer and holding a doctorate in microbial genetics. Seelke has been a common face for the Discovery Institute in testifying against evolution in various locales. Seelke says he wants students to challenge what they learn, to ask: “How do they know that?” We agree. That’s how they learn. But we could ask the same of creationists: How do you know that evolution is a fraud? How do you know God created the universe in six days? They can’t know because they have no scientific evidence, but they can certainly believe. Faith, however, is not science. There is nothing inherently wrong with that faith — unless you want to determine what students learn based on your faith.

4:12 – Seelke asks: Why include “strengths and weaknesses” in the standards? His answers: “It’s good common sense.” “It makes for good stories, and students remember stories.” Good heavens. Is that really the standard he wants for deciding what to teach in science classes? There are lots of good stories about space monsters, ghosts, psychics and the like, but do we want to teach those stories in science class, too?… Read More

11:30 a.m. – Another entrepreneur warns of the consequences of giving Texas a reputation as being hostile to sound science education.

11:44 – A creationist testifier: “Why are we supporting such a theory (evolution) that has no evidence supporting it?” Really? That’s the kind of stunning ignorance on display before the state board today.

11:53 – Josh Rosenau at his Thoughts from Kansas blog explains what state board member Cynthia Dunbar said in November about a Nobel laureate actually being skeptical of evolution. He nails it, explaining very clearly how evolution deniers are distorting facts in support of an ideological agenda.

12:03 – Ide Trotter, associated with the creationist group Texans for Better Science Education, is up. He argues that modern scientific theories make evolutionary theory “more difficult to believe,” but evolutionists are trying to censor those counter arguments.

12:06 – Ryan Valentine, deputy director of the Texas Freedom Network, is up now. Ryan reminds the board that four creationist members tried to reject proposed biology textbooks in 2003 because those books didn’t include phony “weaknesses” of evolution. He calls on the board not to ignore the teachers, academics, scientists and other experts who oppose requiring that students… Read More

9:50 a.m. – Board member Ken Mercer: “Will learning ‘weaknesses’ of evolution make someone a lesser doctor?”

9:53 – Board member David Bradley says teachers have also been intimidated when they want to teach about “weaknesses” of evolution. He says he wanted to bring Ben Stein (from the movie “Expelled”) to speak about that at the hearing. Too bad Stein didn’t come. We could have used the laugh.

10:01 – Ah. The truth made clear. A creationist testifier demands that the board force publishers to teach “weaknesses” of evolution in their textbooks. That is, of course, what the battle about the standards is all about — whether the next set of classroom textbooks will teach pseudoscience or real science.

10:08 – Arturo DeLozanne, a professor of cell biology at the University of Texas at Austin, notes President Barack Obama’s challenge from yesterday: “We need to restore science to its rightful place.” Indeed.

10:10 – Prof. DeLozanne makes it clear: removing “strengths and weaknesses” does nothing to stifle the ability of students to ask questions. There are no prohibitions against asking questions in the proposed standards. Asking questions is how science works. But: “Pseudoscience doesn’t have a place in the science… Read More

8:30 a.m. – The Texas State Board of Education board room near the Capitol in Austin is packed this morning, with folks from around the state waiting to testify on proposed new public school science curriculum standards — and the pressure groups pushing creationism are out in force. The Discovery Institute in Seattle and Texans for Better Science Education have set up tables to distribute anti-evolution propaganda in the building lobby. More on that later…

8:38 – First couple of folks testifying are calling on the state board to adopt the standards draft proposed by teacher writing teams. That draft strikes “strengths and weaknesses,” phrasing that creationists have used to attack evolution in biology textbooks.

8:42 – Board member Ken Mercer once again makes the disingenuous argument that opponents of “strengths and weaknesses” don’t want students to ask questions. More on “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech.”

8:47 – It’s likely that the board’s creationists are going to ask repeatedly whether “strengths and weaknesses” in the current standards has caused any problems. What they conveniently ignore is that four sitting board members tried in 2003 to use the “strengths and weaknesses” argument to force publishers… Read More

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has just filed legislation that would strip the Texas State Board of Education of all authority assigned to it by statute. Among the board’s powers that would go away: setting curriculum standards and adopting textbooks. That authority would be transferred to the Texas Education Agency.

The only authority the board would keep under Senate Bill 440 is power granted under the state Constitution, primarily managing the Permanent School Fund. Removing that authority and eliminating the board altogether would require passage of a constitutional amendment, followed by approval from Texas voters.

We noted last month that state lawmakers had begun looking at ways to rein in the deeply politicized board. We wouldn’t be surprised to see additional legislation targeting the board.

All of this comes as the state board flies farther into the outer political fringes under the control of a far-right bloc headed by Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station. McLeroy, a creationist, has called for redefining science to include supernatural explanations. Board member  and fellow creationist Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, has written a book calling public education a “toolRead More