Rick Perry: Dumbing Down Science Education

The San Angelo Standard-Times last weekend reported this stunning comment from Gov. Rick Perry, the highest elected official in Texas government:

“I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution. The State Board of Education has been charged with the task of adopting curriculum requirements for Texas public schools and recently adopted guidelines that call for the examination of all sides of a scientific theory, which will encourage critical thinking in our students, an essential learning skill.”

So Gov. Perry is on the record in support of teaching high school science students in Texas something that nearly every mainstream scientist says — after more than a century of research and armed with overwhelming evidence — isn’t supported by even a shred of real scientific evidence. Does Gov. Perry also think students should learn that the sun might really revolve around a stationary earth? After all, some people believe that, too. In fact, in 2007 a powerful member of the Texas House of Representatives distributed a memo to colleagues that promoted a website arguing that very thing.

In any case we have the governor of the nation’s second largest state publicly in favor of giving Texas students a substandard science education that would fail to prepare them to succeed in college and to compete in a 21st century economy. He might as well slam the door shut on efforts to bring high-paying medical and science research jobs to Texas.

17 thoughts on “Rick Perry: Dumbing Down Science Education

  1. Yep. They sure are dumbing down the cowboys and cowgirls these days. Science education in Texas has been taken over by ignorant rural preachers from a “country hick” religious tradition. Well, that is the term we might use in casual conversation here in the East. I think author Harold Bloom would call it the “American religion.” According to his thesis, the American people (I would say half-literate and illiterate pioneers walking west with smelly underarms) created a wholly different and distinct form of the Christian religion from that back East and elsewhere in the Christian world.

  2. Charles, there is a wholly different and distinct form of the Christian religion being created in this country as we speak. It has very little to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ, (as you well know).

    This is a jobs/21st Century economy issue. That’s the way to get through to these nim-dingles and it’s the way to pull the moderates and independents away from the Theocratic Party.

  3. I could have told you this a few years ago. I wrote a letter to the Guv, and one of his minions wrote back with a quote almost identical to what he said above. So I responded—respectful, but disgusted. Never heard back.

  4. Rick Perry should carefully read the opinion written by the Bush appointed federal judge in the Dover (PA) intelligent design trial several years ago. The judge ripped intelligent design to shreds in his ruling. If the state goes down this road they’re going to waste a ton of taxpayer money defending a position that precedent has shown is a complete loser. And with such a huge budget deficit already…….

  5. Ha, Perry used the word “intellect” in a sentence. That proves it wasn’t written by him!

    Personally, I don’t believe that Perry believes half the crap he says or is reported to say. What I do believe is that Perry is totally and completely aware of what his voters want to hear and he slops it out with gay abandon, well, after abandoning the gays.

    Face it, Perry and most politicians don’t know the difference between a test tube and YouTube. Perry does, however, have a better hairdresser than Agosto, I’ll give him that much.

  6. In any case we have the governor of the nation’s second largest state publicly in favor of giving Texas students a substandard science education that would fail to prepare them to succeed in college and to compete in a 21st century economy.

  7. I got interested in ID and Creationism recently when it started turning up in the odd non-state school in the UK. It’s clear there are pressure groups here now trying to sneak it in wherever they can. This is a new thing. Until last month I hadn’t been aware of your particular American problems, and these are clearly far more acute. I watched the dramatisations and videos about the Dover trial with fascination and horror. Eugenie Scott is now my hero. An excellent communicator.

    Due to our nation being much smaller and governed differently, the British curriculum is nationally decided and only educationalists are involved. It’s therefore extremely unlikely that any form of ID will ever be included in our national curriculum. It would be disastrous for the economy, for a start. However we do have independent faith schools, both Muslim and Christian, that teach forms of Creationism. This element, though tiny, is cause for concern.

    Regarding your problems in Texas, I can’t see how anyone ever thought having the curriculum agreed by elected officials with no special knowledge would be satisfactory. How did this happen?

    Another contributing factor in the US seems to be a peculiar pride in lack of education, as though intelligence and education were things to arouse suspicion. In England it’s always been cool to be smart, which may account for our relatively large presence globally in proportion to our physical size.

  8. As Ronald Reagan said during his campaign for the Presidency, wellllll, evolution is only a theory and should share equal time with creationism. The Actor went on to become President. Mr. Perry is following Reagan’s lead and setting his course.
    Of course intelligent design is the new “scientific creationism”, as was pointed out by Judge Jones in the Federal court verdict on the teaching of ID in dover, PA.

    James_Breck, above, said it straight- if Perry is elected and takes on this issue, we tax payers will be the losers, again.

  9. Welcome to TFN Insider Sophie. You said:

    “Another contributing factor in the US seems to be a peculiar pride in lack of education, as though intelligence and education were things to arouse suspicion. In England it’s always been cool to be smart, which may account for our relatively large presence globally in proportion to our physical size.”

    I would like to respond to that statement, but my thinking about the subject is a bit fuzzy and amorphous right now. Anyway, here goes, and if it doesn’t make sense, then it’s probably because my thinking really is fuzzy and amorphous. I will do it as numbered points:

    The idea of pride in lack of education is spotty but not not entirely “spot on.” It depends on who you are and where you are in the United States. Educated people in the United States value education. Upwardly mobile people who are smart, highly motivated, and see education as a way to move up value education. Several groups of Americans, and I am admittedly painting with a broad brush, do not value education. They are as follows:

    1) Many children from wealthy or fairly well to do American families do not value education. I attended university with a lot of them. After a lifetime of coddling, these people believe that life owes them a living, and academic effort is just not for them because it is too much like work. Others of this ilk are angry at their parents and see failing grades in school and/or college as a way to get back at them by draining their money supply and flipping them the behavioral bird with failing grades at same time. They are academically capable, but they choose to postpone school until proper revenge has been exacted on the people and way of life that “ruined them.”

    2) Our equivalent of your industrial working class—an extremely large number of Americans—tends to put little value on education. They have average or low IQs and appear to have been born to work with their hands or as simple store clarks—in their view. Even the simplest of K-12 academic work was experienced as death by 1000 cuts each day at school. Moreover, the parents in this group tend to believe that their offspring are always exact carbon copies of themselves who are automatically doomed to the same lifetime of menial jobs. Therefore, why even bother with education. It is not for our “kind.” I know something about this one because I was a child of this tradition who found my way out of it.

    3) Many American minority groups do not value education as a result of generation-to-generation sociocultural trauma and cultural traditions. For example, I have heard that Hispanic culture has placed a historically low value on the education of girls. Anyone who knows better please correct me if I am wrong. I got that from the late James Michener. Jewish Americans place an extremely high value on education, as do Chinese Americans. Most very poor people (who tend to be part of Group No. 2) place a very low value on education.

    4) My cousin is an educator who has taught math in K-12 and is now a Professor of Mathematics at a 2-year college. I get some of this from him/her. Some cliques of middle class kids in American schools place social sanctions against academic achievement among their peers. Pretend you have a group of 100 adolescent students. Most of those students will be average or below average in academic achievement. Therefore, there is high social pressure on the smart kids to be dumb like the rest of the group if they wish to continue as a part of the group. It appears to me that this stems from some kindergarten notion that 100 persons locking arms and crossing the street together will get everyone safely to wherever they are going in life. The problem is that most are going to some version of nowhere. See Group No. 2 above.

    She also says American K-12 teachers are not preparing our children to do college-level work. From what he/she sees each day in the course of his/her work, a large number of the teenagers he/she gets did not learn even simple things in school, such as multiplication tables or how to take a measurement with a ruler. It is maddening. Why is that? Some of it is because we have many really lousy teachers. It is arguable that we let many of our worst college students teach our children for low wages while most of our best and brightest college students take high-paying jobs in various professional fields. Our 2-year colleges have started accepting large numbers of applicants from Group No. 2 (above), which is the crux of the problem as I see it.

    Absorb this. When you hear about the CRISIS in American education, it largely boils down to one thing. Jobs for Group No. 2 have been dwindling for years and are expected to continue going down. Jobs that “use your hands” have gone off to China and the Third World. If you have ever seen a bell curve, you know that the Group No. 2 people make up most of the population of the United States. Therefore, at the risk of being dramatic, but not too far from the truth, the crisis in American education can be summed up in a single question: “How do you turn a grubby working person with a 95 IQ and no esteem for education into a master of science and calculus so she can take a high-tech job.” You would probably recognize this as the George Bernard Shaw and “Pygmalion” problem. It is precisely that. This is our principal problem. For the most part, we are charging our small two-year colleges with the task of doing this—with miserably poor results.

    It appears that Great Britain and the rest of the industrial world is solving this problem better than us. How are you doing it?

    5) A very large number of our children have examined our society and concluded that the path to success is something we Americans call “being cool.” No academic work is required—not really. All it takes is proper emulation of Lady Gaga in one’s own life, or the creativity to develop a unique persona of one’s own that will lead to a successful career. Why not? There is actually some very substantial truth to this in our culture. If you read the biographies of our movie and musical stars, you will find that a very large numbers never attended college or dropped out of college after being there for a very short time. See Lady Gaga. See Harrison Ford. In addition, we have many entrepreneurial types with little education but bright ideas they can turn into millions or billions of dollars—and they somehow find a way.

    Finally, we have a maxim here in the United States that is true to the core. “It is not so much what you know as WHO you know.” If you doubt it, buy a copy of the world-famous job hunter’s manual entitled “What Color is Your Parachute?”—highly recommended by the Harvard Business School. Given a choice between the most academically and experienced person for a job, the person who gets that job will often be a lesser qualified person who was recommended by a hiring manager’s friend as “a nice guy you can trust.” Many of our children know how the system works and focus a lot of their adolescent attention on being “as cool as possible” and making the right social contacts in life so those relationships will serve them well when it comes time to get a job.

    What about the civil service system and Equal Employment Opportunity(EEO) requirements in the private sector? Aren’t they supposed to stop this sort of thing? It is all smoke and mirrors signifying almost nothing. As one federal government manager is quoted as saying in Parachute, “If I didn’t know how to get around the federal EEO requirements, I wouldn’t be much of a manager—now would I?” The Human Resource (HR) Managers in most American companies are virtually powerless in the hiring process. Managers have all of the power in hiring. Despite years of effort to at least look valuable to the company, HR has been traditionally regarded by line managers as a drag on the company’s bottom line, and HR people are often the very first to go in lay-offs. One of the principal jobs of the HR Department in most American businesses is to collect and immediately throw in the waste basket millions of resumes from people STUPID ENOUGH to send their resume to the HR Department. For the most part, being stupid enough to do that automatically disqualifies you from consideration. Didn’t know that, did you? How do I know? I have spent a good deal of my adult life studying the subject of career planning and development.

  10. The method to the Republican madness when it comes to education: wreck public education, make state universities like the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, making people so incredibly ignorant that they buy into lies, rumors, and propaganda design to keep Republicans in power and preserve the plutocracy.

  11. No child should be allowed to graduate high school without being able to explain why evolution is a fact. Similar to the issue that came up at Texas Tech about 5 years ago. (I’m not saying they have to confirm they agree, just realize why it’s valid)

  12. I don’t see where it matters one iota if Rick Perry believes what he says or not. The fact remains that he is the governor with all the rights and powers that position entails. If what he SAYS serves his position, that’s the position he’s going to take. What he believes is immaterial. Period.

    I’ve heard the same said of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN); that he doesn’t believe current Republican policy. What does it matter what he believes? The fact is he VOTES the total Republican way, and that’s all that counts. What Alexander believes is immaterial.

    People who want their children to have a substandard education are people who don’t want their children nor America to succeed. It’s as simple as that. If you doubt me, go back and read what I wrote about how proud these people are of their fidelity to their anti-education, anti-science interpretation of Christianity.

    I can add another dimension to what Charles wrote in response to Sophie. You can see how much dumbing-down is held in high esteem in America if you just listen to speeches of Pres. George W. Bush. He spoke kind of like a country bumpkin yet, off camera, he was said to speak in the way one would expect a college grad to speak. However, anymore, speaking like an educated person does not cut it with the American public so, in order to promote his popularity and get elected, he had to dumb down his own speech. Just look at how Obama is trashed because he speaks like an educated person. People absolutely HATE him for that. He is labeled “elite” and “elitist” as if there’s something wrong with having an education. That’s the way it has become in America. The educated are trashed; the uneducated are elevated.

    Just listen to the psycho talk that comes out of the mouths of tea partiers and their supporters. The dumber you are, the more electable you are. In fact, the more paranoid and psychotic you are, the more electable you are. Doubt me? Take a look at how many of them have won their primaries.

    America is becoming increasingly conservative, both religiously and politically. I can give you two examples right off the bat to support that statement: fewer Americans than ever accept global climate change or the theory of evolution. America is entering a new Dark Ages and is hell-bent in doing so. I see no evidence to think otherwise.

  13. This note is just to follow up on a fine point that our friend Cytocop made. (She thinks we don’t read her posts. “Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh!! We really do.)

    For years now, we have been told that there is an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country. In my view, it is getting worse. There was a time when this country had millions of factory workers who made good middle class wages down at the local plant. Those jobs are in Shanghai now, and they ain’t a comin’ back. This means that millions of Americans with high school diplomas or less have fallen into either unemployment or underemployment and cannot live the kind of life they once did. The American middle class is rapidly disappearing.

    Some of you who went to college will recall that Karlie Marx and Freddie Engels thought the middle class was the main problem in this world and that communism was going to get rid of it to make things better. Well, guess what? He was wrong. Karl and Freddie are long dead. Communism is in the ash can of history. American business leaders and their Republican Party allies have worked together for decades to virtually destroy the American middle class in this country—and guess what—now that it is almost gone—nothing is any better. We have a country polarized between “well-off” dudes like me and a factory worker in Flint, Michigan, who had a Coca-Cola and a small bag of peanuts today because it was all he could afford for lunch. Moreover, American business and the Republican Party say they want to help. Trouble is, ever since the days of Herbert Hoover, they have had this deeply ingrained and religiously held philosophy that government leaders have NO RIGHT to interfere with the functioning of a free market economy. It must be allowed to sit alone and somehow fix itself. They still have this philosophy, and it is the foundation of everything they do. Therefore, I would like to know how they are going to fix our economy and where they plan to magically get these millions of new American jobs that will be headed our way in January 2011. If you have an ounce of gray matter anywhere in your head, you will ask that same question. But I digress.

    Sorry, I will have to pick this up later. I have to run my daughter down to our church for her evening youth service. See ya in a bit.

  14. Hi Charles. I hope you had a safe trip to/from your church.

    What you write above is the truth. I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it. I’m from Detroit. When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, a kid could graduate from high school, maybe take some technical training at community college and get a decent job in a plant or comparable industry. The wages were good enough that he/she could live almost a middle class lifestyle. The workers did OK, and the shareholders who invested in their companies did OK. But around the mid-1970’s, that all started to change. Those on top weren’t satisfied with their wages which were roughly 40x that of their lowest-paid employees. No, they suffered horribly because of that so they exported their business and jobs overseas while blaming the unions for driving them into such a sorry state . Now they make 400x the wage of the lowest-paid employee. That is, IF they have any American employees. I think most of their employees are overseas making a fraction of what their American counterparts used to make.

    Both parties – but especially the Republicans – have been making war on the middle class for decades. Why make war on the middle class? Because they, in fact, really HATE democracy. What they want is the Plutocracy the United States is already well on its way to being. Oh, sure, they give lip service to “democracy” and all the flowery speech that entails. But if you look at their policies, it’s the same old one of transferring wealth from the middle class to the upper class.

    It has been said that democracy cannot exist without a middle class. Therefore, step #1: destroy the middle class. Create an oligarchic ruling class and a huge lower class of “worker bees,” uneducated and dumbed-down. Take a look around you: their Grand Plan is coming to fruition. The Repugniks are opposed to loans for small business. The Repugniks insist on tax breaks for the wealthiest (while pretending to care about the growing deficit). A university education has become more and more unaffordable for the middle and lower classes. Both parties – but especially the Republicans – are hell-bent on endless wars for profit while denying even the most basic services for wounded veterans. Abortion will soon be outlawed, and then even contraception, ensuring that more couples who want to limit the size of their families will be burdened with the cost of child-rearing.

    There is no G.I. Bill anymore which created the biggest expansion of the middle class ever seen. NOOOOO! The G.I. Bill would NEVER do in today’s world!!

    Read Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream by Arianna Huffington. Not always the best source of information but in this one she’s pretty much right on target.

  15. Thank you, Charles, for your long and carefully thought out response. It was interesting. I’d have replied sooner but one of my kids was admitted to hospital for a couple of days. Nothing life-threatening, but he has type

  16. 1 diabetes and is a teenager which tends to mean his control goes haywire every so often. Came back tired and stressed, but at least not broke. Our NHS is far from perfect, but it is a noble enterprise.

    We have all the same social problems in England. The big difference is in who we respect/elect, I think. The chairman of your State Board of Education, Don McLeroy said, “Somebody’s gotta stand up to experts.”

    I can’t imagine any elected official saying that here. No one would take someone with such anti-intellectual opinions seriously. There’s been a lot of media coverage of the Pope’s recent visit to the UK, saying we’re the most secular country in Europe. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s definitely true that we don’t go in for public religiosity. Bible thumping wins you no votes in Britain.

    Declaring that you believe in Creationism would be the kiss of death to a British political career. It appears that in the US it’s mandatory in some circles – which must be very alarming if you’re educated.

    The old cliche that we’re two nations divided by a common language is so true. The use of English is deceptive in that it suggests we’re alike, which we aren’t – the US is a very different nation, with very different objectives and ideals.

    The fuss about Obama and about his health reforms was a real eye-opener to me. I hung around reading American discussion boards, seeing countless people who really thought a healthcare system was communism… Unbelievable. And all that “death panel” stuff. Weird. Pretty much all the other industrialised nations have healthcare provision – and none of us are communist.

  17. WOW. This article is pathetic to the highest degree.

    “So Gov. Perry is on the record in support of teaching high school science students in Texas something that nearly every mainstream scientist says — after more than a century of research and armed with overwhelming evidence — isn’t supported by even a shred of real scientific evidence”

    What are you smoking? “overwhelming evidence”. HA! What evidence? There are facts to this debate and one fact is that you are dead wrong when you say there is overwhelming evidence in evolutions favor. If anyone is still reading this article and doesn’t believe me, I’ll be happy to show what a joke evolution is.

    “The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields.” – Noah Webster
    “Education is useless without the Bible.” – Noah Webster