Don McLeroy, who infamously declared that “somebody’s gotta stand up to experts” in the debate over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms, has waded into a key Texas State Board of Election (SBOE) election contest. Eric Mahroum announced on Jan. 29 that the creationist former SBOE chair is backing his challenge to incumbent Pat Hardy in the District 11 Republican Primary. Lady Theresa Thombs is the third GOP candidate in that North Texas race.

Mahroum’s website quotes McLeroy as charging that Hardy “disqualified herself to serve” on the SBOE by supporting a proposal in 2011 to allow voters to decide whether to transfer $2 billion from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the state’s public education budget. McLeroy’s claims that Hardy “acted irresponsibly” by “encouraging a massive raid” on the PSF, which funds textbooks. The proposal’s supporters argued at the time that voters should be able to decide whether to use PSF money to soften the blow of billions of dollars in devastating cuts state lawmakers ultimately made to the state budget for public schools.

But no one should be fooled here: the real issue here for McLeroy isn’t the PSF. He really opposes Hardy’s… Read More

Don McLeroy, the arch-creationist former chairman of the State Board of Education, is displeased over how some folks have interpreted his public hearing testimony last week about proposed new biology textbooks for Texas high schools. Here’s how the San Antonio Current describes his testimony in a story published online today:

While McLeroy described some of the evolution instruction in the unedited books as “unsubstantiated” and “dogmatic” (pot, kettle?) he, unlike other creationist proponents, oddly considers the statements weak enough to support overall. Within the pages lie, “hidden gems just waiting to be mined by inquisitive students that could destroy evolution,” he said, referring to a supposed open door to evolution denial he slipped into the books as Board chair. But those loopholes don’t seem to actually exist—researchers with the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University found the books to affirm evolution as, “factual, well-established, mainstream science.”

The fight over evolution v. creationism is sadly nothing novel in the Texas textbook wars, but the former Board chair’s overt admission may be. In the end, McLeroy, clawing at his last shot to wield influence and now untethered to the careful religious boundaries one can’t overstep… Read More

In something of a tour de farce, on Tuesday arch-creationist and former State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy returned to the same state board meeting room in which he led efforts to rewrite science curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2008-09. Those controversial standards, he hoped, would “strike a blow” against evolution in science education and, in particular, in new science textbooks that publishers would subsequently write. (Please excuse the periodic but short video blackouts in the clip above.)

Speaking at the SBOE’s public hearing on the proposed new science textbooks publishers submitted for approval in April, McLeroy — who lost a re-election bid in 2010 — launched into one of the most bizarre arguments we heard throughout the day. Before and after he spoke, creationists sharply criticized the textbooks for failing to include their discredited arguments attacking evolution. But not McLeroy. The College Station dentist insisted that the SBOE should actually adopt the textbooks because, he said repeatedly and emphatically, the evidence supporting evolution in those books is “weak”:

“Ironically, evolutionists argue that creationists want to force their religious views on the texts. But just the teaching of biology does that, and teaching evolution… Read More

Many have been mystified that, even in the 21st century, Texas remains embroiled in a heated debate over evolution. In 2008 and 2009, for example, creationists on and off the State Board of Education insisted that new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools include requirements that would open classroom doors to anti-evolution junk science. The state board is set to adopt new science textbooks and other instructional materials based on those standards this year.

But the argument over evolution in Texas really isn’t much of a surprise. That’s because creationists have proudly rejected out of hand the overwhelming scientific evidence behind evolution. They have reveled, as former state board chairman Don McLeroy infamously said, in “standing up to experts.”

In fact, McLeroy — a self-described “young Earth creationist” who lost his re-election bid in 2010 — continues to do so. Last month he agreed to be interviewed by Steven Novella, who is president of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS). You can find the posts about that interview on the NESS blog, NeuroLogicalBlog. But if you don’t have time to check out those posts, just look at one to… Read More

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy has an interesting Twitter post:

“Ex-SBOE Chair @DonMcLeroy likes @TFN’s report on preachy Bible lessons: “I agree. That shouldn’t be in  public schools.”

Well, good for Don. Maybe he can help persuade fellow creationists who sit on the state board now that they should adopt real curriculum standards that take a study of the Bible’s influence in history and literature seriously. Back in 2008 the state board threw school districts under the bus by adopting such overly broad and vague standards that they offered almost no help at all in creating good courses. So it shouldn’t be surprising that public schools today are teaching nonsense about the Bible that racists and anti-Semites have used for centuries to justify their bigotry.

The TFN Education Fund’s report includes many other examples of serious flaws in Texas public school Bible courses. You can read a short overview of the report here. The new report is available here. Our previous reports on public school Bible classes are here and here.… Read More