During a debate in Waco on Thursday, candidates for the Republican nomination for Texas lieutenant governor said they support teaching biblical creationism in the state’s public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that teaching creationism in public school science classrooms violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and two of his Republican primary opponents, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick, called for teaching creationism in public schools. The Dallas Morning News reports that Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson also voiced his support, but the Texas Tribune reports Patterson didn’t specifically call for teaching creationism in public schools. However, the Tribune says Patterson insisted that the Constitution doesn’t protect separation of church and state.

The Texas Tribune directly quotes three of the candidates on the issues of creationism and religion in public schools.

Dewhurst:

“I believe that in fairness we need to expose students to both sides of this. That’s why I’ve supported including in our textbooks the discussion of the biblical account of life and creation, and I understand there are a lot of people who disagree with me, and believe in evolution.”

Patrick:

“Our students …… Read More

This very short clip from last weekend’s debate between State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, highlights how the manufactured “controversy” over CSCOPE eventually oozed out of the right-wing fever swamps.

Tea party and other political activists (including a for-profit political consulting company) have absurdly claimed that the CSCOPE curriculum tool used by hundreds of Texas public and Christian schools is un-American, anti-Christian, pro-Islamic and Marxist. Those claims have been based on mistruths and ridiculous distortions of CSCOPE lessons. Here are some examples. Here are some others.

Even so, Sen. Patrick (who is running for lieutenant governor in the 2014 elections) has shamefully pandered to those activists. He repeats their half-baked arguments over and over — including at the debate with Ratliff. He even pressured (successfully) the state’s Education Service Centers to stop producing CSCOPE lessons.

Ratliff says he trusts local school district officials and teachers to decide for themselves whether to continue using existing CSCOPE lessons that are now in the public domain. They, he argues, are qualified to know what’s appropriate and what’s not in their… Read More

If you missed last Saturday’s CSCOPE debate between State Board of Education vice chair Thomas Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, here it is in its entirety.

On one side, you had an SBOE member who showed up with facts. On the other, you had an ambitious politician running for higher office who came armed with red meat for the paranoid right. But don’t take our word for it, watch the whole thing for yourself.

And finally, we’ll point out that this video is unedited. We feel the need to stress this because, given the history of this “controversy,” it’s likely that the CSCOPE opponents will accuse us of using Islamic camera angles, or some other crazy thing.

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Monday afternoon Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst performed a feat only politicians seem able to do on a regular basis, at least with a straight face. He denounced politicizing an issue that he was holding a press conference to politicize:

“This issue is about teaching Texas children. I personally have a problem with any effort to politicize this process. It is an affront to these families, and Texas families across the state, and the values we hold dear as Texans.”

Oh please. About the only thing missing from this press conference was a ritual book burning.

Dewhurst was flanked at the press conference by tea party and other political activists — the same ones he and Sen. Dan Patrick have been courting in their coming Republican primary battle. Patrick and Dewhurst have competed in recent months to see which one can pretend to be the most outraged — OUTRAGED! — by classroom lessons written by current and retired Texas teachers (known radicals, of course).

On Monday, Dewhurst repeatedly charged that those CSCOPE lessons are plagued by “errors” and “bias.” He offered zero examples. Do “the values we hold dear as Texans” include promoting unsubstantiated smears and falsehoods to… Read More

The absurd, manufactured controversy over CSCOPE in Texas is leaping back into the spotlight. And that spotlight is illuminating just how hypocritical some of the curriculum tool’s political critics really are.

On Friday State Board of Education Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, and state Senate Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick, R-Houston, announced that they have agreed to a public debate over CSCOPE. At around the same time, state board Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, said the board will resume its review of CSCOPE lessons. That review had been short-circuited in May when Sen. Patrick bullied the state’s Education Service Centers into ending their development of those lessons. And now we hear that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will crow at a Monday press conference about a state judge who apparently has issued a temporary restraining order against the use of CSCOPE in a Hill Country school district.

Regarding the debate, Patrick has been one of the most vocal legislative leaders in the anti-CSCOPE witch hunt. Far-right activists have claimed (with no real evidence) that the program is Marxist, pro-Islam, anti-American and anti-Christian. The state’s Education Service Centers developed CSCOPE, which includes lessons written by current and retired… Read More