I blogged a couple times already about the case of Christina Comer, erstwhile head of science education for the Texas Education Agency. She’d sinned unforgivably — in the agency’s eyes — by forwarding an email about a pro-evolution seminar. This apparently violated the TEA’s enfroced “neutrality” concerning anything which is “controversial.” The AP (via Google News) reports on her appeal’s progress (WebCite cached article):
The former director of the science program for Texas’ public schools asked a federal appeals court Monday to revive a lawsuit over her firing for forwarding an e-mail about a forum opposed to teaching creationism.
The agency that runs Texas public schools argued that Christina Castillo Comer’s e-mail broke its policy of neutrality toward any potentially controversial issue, including creationism. A lawyer for Comer says the agency has an unwritten, unconstitutional policy of treating creationism as science.
A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments Monday in Comer’s lawsuit against Robert Scott, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency.
The idea that all things controversial must be treated “neutrally” may sound good in theory, but in practice, it’s ludicrous. Lots of things are “controversial,” yet the facts about them are known, and there’s no question what the truth of them is; what controversy exists lies in the failure of everyone to accept or understand those facts.
If the TEA’s policy of being rigidly “neutral” toward all controversies is to be obeyed unflinchingly and applied strictly in all cases, this means that TEA personnel must be “neutral” about such matters as:
Whether or not the Holocaust happened (there is a “controversy” here which is in the form of irrational, delusional, and anti-Semitic Holocaust denials)
Whether it’s compression or friction that causes meteors to vaporize as they fall into the Earth’s atmosphere (it’s frequently said that friction is the agent here, but it’s not)
The solution to the so-called “Mony Hall problem” (the answer is known and mathematically demonstrable but people often don’t get it)
Whether or not the Priory of Sion exists (author Dan Brown and his readers insist it’s real and its existence is “fact,” but the truth is that it was a hoax)
Whether or not the attacks by Ottoman Turks against Armenians around the turn of the 20th century constitutes a “genocide” (it’s agreed these attacks took place, that they were systemic, and claimed the lives of over a million Armenians; but the Turkish government and a few wingnuts deny it)
I doubt there are any rational Texans who seriously consider the facts of these — and other issues — to be genuinely “controversial.” But does the fact that there are controversies surrounding them, mean TEA personnel must act as though these facts are not known?
Of course not.
This is why the TEA’s fierce demand of unthinking “neutrality” toward any and all “controversies” is foolish and laughable on its face. Some things are not “controversial” enough to merit being “neutral” toward them … and educators in Texas or anywhere else have no business acting as though they are.
Photo credit: kalebdf.Tags: 5th us circuit court of appeals, anti-creationism, appeal, christian, Christianity, christians, christina castillo comer, Christina Comer, controversial, controversies, controversy, creation, creationism, creationist, creationists, education, evolution, firing, neutrality, public education, Religion, religionism, religionist, Robert Scott, science, science education, tea, texas, Texas Education Agency