Once again creationists are trying to undermine science education in Texas. On Wednesday the Texas House Higher Education Committee will consider legislation that would bar the state’s colleges and universities from discriminating against or penalizing “in any manner” faculty members or students who engage in research on “intelligent design” — the name creationists have given to their pseudo-scientific attacks on evolution.

This isn’t the first time creationists have targeted the teaching of evolution in Texas colleges and universities. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, proposed the same bill in 2011. It never got a committee hearing. In 2008 the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas lost a bid to get the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to certify its master’s of science education degree program. The ICR then sued the state, but that went nowhere.

Now Rep. Zedler is back with his academic fraud protection legislation, House Bill 285. This year he’ll get his committee hearing. We have a briefing paper on HB 285 here, but the key points are the same as in 2011.… Read More

This time the Q&A for Barbara Cargill, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) chair, is administered by Texas Monthly. And just like her appearance before the Senate Nominations Committee last week (or before the Senate Education Committee the week before), I don’t think these answers are going to put to rest concern in the science community.

First off, Cargill has a hard time explaining what  it was, exactly, she and the other creationists on the SBOE intended when they crammed buzzwords favored by “intelligent design” backers (terms such as “sudden appearance” and “stasis”) into the state’s public school science curriculum standards in 2009. And while Cargill is fond of touting her own credentials as a biology teacher, she’s a little fuzzy on how she would teach these concepts:

“Now remember, it’s been about 20 years since I’ve taught. I’m not sure some of these things had even been named yet. I’m pretty sure stasis is a little bit new. Oh, good heavenly days. Well, I can’t… Read More

At today’s Senate confirmation hearing on Barbara Cargill’s reappointment as State Board of Education chair, Texans got a chance to see two of their elected leaders vandalizing the concept of science education in public schools.

Speaking at a meeting of Senate Education Committee just two weeks ago, Cargill said she wants publishers to “soften” their language and “teach another side” on evolution in new science textbooks they submit to the state this year. As State Board of Education chair, she would oversee the approval of those textbooks. Then at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Nominations Committee today, Cargill said critics had taken her comments out of context. (More on that in an upcoming post.) She then assured the Nominations Committee that she does not support teaching creationism in public schools.

Cargill’s comments on evolution brought about a revealing exchange between her and state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. Campbell, a Tea Party firebrand first elected to her seat last November, seemed stunned by the idea that public school science classes can’t teach creationism alongside evolution. Cargill, on the other hand, knows the courts would not permit that and fell back on the typical… Read More

We just got back from the Texas Senate Nominations Committee hearing on Barbara Cargill’s reappointment to another term as chair of the State Board of Education. We’ll have much more soon — including some alarming comments about science from both Cargill and at least one member of the Senate committee. Meanwhile, here’s the press release we just sent out.

SBOE CHAIR’S SCIENCE COMMENTS AT HEARING HIGHLIGHT CONCERNS OVER HER APPOINTMENT

Cargill Claims to Oppose Teaching Creationism in Science Classrooms But Favors Creationist Arguments in Textbooks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 11, 2013

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller had this to say following today’s Senate Nominations Committee hearing on the reappointment of Barbara Cargill to another term as chair of the State Board of Education:

“The issue before the Senate is not Ms. Cargill’s religion. It’s whether the state board will be headed by someone who puts her own personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas children a 21st-century education. We simply can’t support the confirmation of a board chair who claims that she opposes teaching creationism in science classrooms but then insists, as she did again today, that textbooks include anti-evolution arguments that only creationists make and that… Read More

We told you this would happen.

In 2009, when the Texas State Board of Education adopted new science curriculum standards, we warned that creationists had inserted language they would later try to exploit to pressure publishers into including junk-science arguments against evolution in new textbooks. Barbara Cargill, the Republican state board chair from The Woodlands near Houston, showed last Thursday that we were right. Speaking at a Senate Education Committee hearing in Austin about CSCOPE, a curriculum management tool developed by Education Service Centers around the state and used by many school districts, Cargill said she thinks CSCOPE doesn’t conform to the science standards because it doesn’t teach “all sides” about evolution:

“Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations…. But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website] last night, I couldn’t see anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson, everything, you know, was taught as ‘this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,’ and all that’s fine, but that’s only one side.”

Cargill went on to… Read More

LGBT Foundation

Happy International #PronounsDay! Today is a chance for us to make respecting, sharing & educating about personal pronouns more commonplace Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity Find out more at lgbt.foundation/pron… pic.twitter.com/dy8l…