Archive for the ‘texas BOE’ tag
Thanks to Robert Luhn from the National Center for Science Education for passing this bit of news along to me.
This issue has been stewing for quite some time, but the Texas Board of Education voted 8-0 this week to use mainstream science textbooks from established publishers in its classroom materials, rather than use materials from International Databases, LLC., that would have included elements of intelligent design, or at least thrown Darwinism and evolution into some question.
Here’s some examples of material submitted to the Texas BOE from International Databases (I assume it’s no coincidence that the LLC’s initials are “ID”) claiming that “intelligent input is necessary for life’s origin” and “life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes.”
In an article from The Dallas Morning Star, International Databases president Stephen Sample had this to say:
I am not trying to bring the book of Genesis into science classes. One of the reasons I decided to enter the bidding for these books was to give Texas students a fair and honest treatment of evolution. The scientific community is split on Darwin’s theory, and my material reflects that.
The mainstream scientific community is not “split” on evolution, and it has not even been unsure on the matter in a very long time. Likewise, Darwin’s “theory” is no longer a theory in the more common sense of the word, that is, “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.”
See this article for more background on the Texas BOE case.
I plan to jump back on this site after I get the holidays are behind us. I’ve recently been entrenched with the aforementioned “War and Peace,” and now, I’m reading a book titled, “Nixon’s Piano,” in which Kenneth O’Reilly traces the track record of each United States president on the topic of race and how few presidents moved race relations and civil rights forward. Rather, the large majority either did all they could to ignore the problem, thus passing the buck to successors or used blacks and other minorities to secure the Southern vote. Of course, numerous early presidents from Washington to Adams to Jefferson knew the peculiar institution was unsustainable in the long run but again, deferred to later generations to actually enact meaningful change. Reluctantly, Lincoln was the man that conclusively ended slavery, but what he couldn’t end was racism, and blacks and other groups would wait another century-plus before Martin Luther King Jr., and other members of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement finally broke the chains of segregation and Jim Crow.
It’s an enticing read, and I would like to read O’Reilly’s other book on race, “Racial Matters: The FBIs Secret File on Black America” in the future.
Needless to say, I typically either spend the bulk of my free time writing and researching for this site or reading and/or playing video games like the 33-year-old teenager that I am.
That said, and in the spirit of annual, year-ending “Best of …” lists, here are 20 of what I consider to be my top blog posts for 2010. In no particular order:
- Jan. 13 — Haitians condemned — classy, Robertson: In light of another natural disaster, Robertson toes the Jerry Falwell line of thinking and blames people, not natural forces, for the Haiti earthquake. God 55, Humans 0.
- Feb. 25 — Talk radio echo chamber claptrap: Michael Savage gets it wrong … again.
- March 21 — Historic legislation well on its way: The most sweeping health reform bill in nearly half a century passes without a single Republican vote. Thirty-two million formerly uninsured patients will be able to get themselves checked out. Insurance companies can no longer deny sick people because of preexisting conditions. Republicans still looking for some kind of human pulse.
- March 17 — In response to Tea, Coffee parties, Kool-Aid Party emerges: In the great spirit of The Onion, I penned this faux-news piece about the newest beverage-inspired political parties. Hopefully, I can do more of this type of thing in the future.
- May 15th — 12-year-old deftly covering Lady Gaga; pop and nothingness: Greyson Chance puts some feeling behind an otherwise lifeless pop song.
- May 10th — Dave Matthews, philosophy and the GrooGrux King: The Dave Matthews Band had something to say about life and death in their latest album, a tribute to their fallen comrade, LeRoi Moore.
- June 19th — Federal suit against Arizona forthcoming: Arizona attempts to skirt federal immigration law, and the Constitution couldn’t be clearer on the matter.
- July 16th — Some reflections from New England: Thoughts from the road during my summer trip to Boston, New York and Connecticut. I will possibly have at least two similar posts next year because of an extra week of vacation.
- July 28th — Federal judge makes ruling on Arizona bill: As it turns out, a federal judge has the ability to read the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
- Aug. 26th — Movie review: ‘Doubt‘: I don’t review movies very often, but this was one of the more interesting films I’ve seen this year. The movie explores the (special?) relationship between a Catholic priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a schoolboy.
- Aug. 11th — Response to Apologetics IV: miracles: This is one in a series on a Christian apologetic book I read a few months ago. It’s dubbed as a handy guide for Christians to be able to thwart arguments against the Christian faith. It supplies most or all of the stock arguments for faith. I, in turn, thwart some of its more intricate “proofs.”
Sept. 1 — Open letter on problem of evil, my response: A college philosophy graduate pens an open letter to Christians regarding the problem of evil. I reply.
- Sept. 11 — NYC: two towers down but still in the game: Reflections on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attack.
- Sept. 24th — Colbert: ‘I like talking about people who don’t have any power’: In one of the more fascinating moments on Capitol Hill, comic Stephen Colbert breaks character during a hearing on immigrant labor conditions after spending a day in the fields himself.
- Oct. 6 — More battles over textbook curriculum: Texas Board of Education’s conservative spin on science curriculum.
- Oct. 11 — Apologetics VII: immortality and consciousness: Another in the apologetics series.
- Oct. 13 — Apologetics VIII: heaven, hell, free will: And another.
- Oct. 30 — Mark Levin: ‘Trust me.’ Sure.: More nonsense from another neocon radio host.
- Nov. 30 — Vick: flying high amid, in spite of critics: Having clawed himself out of the public doghouse, the Eagles quarterback may be Super Bowl bound.
- Dec. 7 — Noah’s Ark, the 21st century version: Theme park creators take it to a biblical level.
I previously wrote on this topic at this link.
Seemingly antithetical to anything that could be called educational planning, planning based on science and the record of history, that is, the Texas Board of Education handed down a 10-5 preliminary vote in favor of amending the state’s social studies curriculum, with many of the decisions falling along conservative political or ideological lines.
So, he introduced an amendment to state social studies curriculum standards that said: “understand how government taxation and regulations can serve as restriction to private enterprise.”
He said the students need to know that over-regulation and over-taxation can inhibit innovation and stifle industry.
His fellow member, Terri Leo, agreed. She said it’s especially important today, with issues like cap-and-trade and “policies that are based on supposed global warming theories.”
The amendment passed.
As part of the new curriculum, the elected board — made up of lawyers, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others — rejected an attempt to ensure that children learn wshy the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom.
But, it agreed to strengthen nods to Christianity by adding references to “laws of nature and nature’s God” to a section in U.S. history that requires students to explain major political ideas.
They also agreed to strike the word “democratic” in references to the form of U.S. government, opting instead to call it a “constitutional republic.”
In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class and agreed to require economics students to “analyze the decline of the U.S. dollar including abandonment of the gold standard.”
And possibly the most ridiculous example I can find, one that smacks of anti-intellectualism all around is the case of the children’s book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr., which the board of education moved to ban because, and without doing any fact-checking, members thought it was written by Bill Martin, who indeed penned, “Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.” The latter Bill Martin, however, is a philosophy teacher at DePaul University in Chicago.
From the The Dallas Morning News:
Hardy’s motion is “a new low in terms of the group that’s supposed to represent education having such faulty research and making such a false leap without substantiating what they’re doing,” said Michael Sampson, Martin’s co-author on 30 children’s books.
The social studies standards update, which started last spring when groups of educators met to suggest revisions, has brought criticism from the right and the left about politicizing the process. As trustees worked their way through a draft this month, political ideas like imperialism, communism and free enterprise were at the heart of some of the changes.
The good news, I suppose, is that the person holding the board’s most conservative, far right seat, member Don McLeroy, was ousted by lobbyist Thomas Ratliff earlier this month. Said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network:
Voters sent a clear message by rejecting the ringleader [McLeroy] of the faction that has repeatedly dragged our public schools into the nation’s divisive culture wars over the past four years. Parents want a state board that focuses on educating their kids, not promoting divisive political and personal agendas.
The bad news, at least for students, is that
social conservatives claimed at least one victory as Ken Mercer of San Antonio successfully fended off a GOP challenge from Austin attorney Tim Tuggey. And conservative Brian Russell forced an April runoff with educator Marsha Farney in the race for the seat held by outgoing Christian conservative Cynthia Dunbar.
“I hope we can keep our conservative posture,” Mercer said of the board.
Since when should educational material break down along party lines or even ideological lines? I will now return to some corner silently weeping.