Posts Tagged “board of education”

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machineryThe belt-buckle of the Bible Belt, Texas, is acting up again. And it’s the same people — the state’s Board of Education — as I’ve blogged about previously (e.g. here, and here, and here). This time they’ve fallen in behind the vast hosts of the nation’s Neocrusaders, and are laying siege to textbooks. The New York Times reports on the Texas BoE’s continuing effort to proselytize to public school children (WebCite cached article):

Some conservative members of the Texas Board of Education assert that the history books used in this state have a pro-Islamic bias, and they are upset about it.

Never shy about wading into the culture wars, they are planning to vote Friday for a resolution that would send a blunt message to textbook publishers: Do not present a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian version of history if you want to sell books in one of the nation’s largest markets.

“The purpose of this resolution is to ensure there is balanced treatment of divergent groups,” Gail Lowe, the chairwoman of the board, said. “In the past, the textbooks have had some bias against Christianity.”

The resolution was written and submitted to the board this summer by, Randy Rives, who as a member of the school board in Odessa, Tex., pushed through a Bible study curriculum.

The Neocrusaders’ complaint is that textbooks are “biased” against Christianity and in favor of Islam. Unfortunately, they don’t bother to demonstrate this. They simply insinuate that it’s the case. The problem, of course, is that “bias” has a meaning … a statistical one, and it must be demonstrated using compelling, objective, statistical evidence. The Neocrusaders — to no one’s surprise — don’t offer any such thing. They simply assert “bias” and base it on a small selection of readings, as well as the fact that some Dubai royals had once attempted to invest in a textbook publishing company. (They no longer have any interest in it; showing once again that the Religious Right loves to ignore facts it finds inconvenient.)

In my experience, anytime someone whines about “bias” without offering evidence of it, what they really mean is, “This stuff isn’t exactly the way I, personally, want it to be.” Sadly, their own personal wishes — whatever they may be — are irrelevant. History is history … period! … and to bend it to suit one’s personal whim, makes it something other than history.

In any event, if anyone in Texas — or any other state — is concerned that his/her child may not get a “balanced” view of Christianity, the solution is rather obvious … teach it to your kids yourself, or in Sunday school. Forcing public school teachers to mouth the platitudes and dogmas you — personally — hold dear is not the solution. Unless, of course, your goal is to control other people’s kids rather than just your own. This is, in fact, precisely what Mr Rives and the rest of the furiously sanctimonious Neocrusaders want; he said so, himself:

“If you can control or influence our education system, you can start taking over the minds of the young people,” Mr. Rives said.

Thank you, Mr Rives, for confessing to your own game. It is to control people. I can’t possibly have asked for any more clear of an admission on your part.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

To date I’ve blogged not once, but twice, about creationists’ efforts to get their religion into public-school science classrooms in Texas. Well, the state’s Board of Education finally voted, and in an equivocating manner typical of bureaucrats and politicians, came up with a compromise decision that satisfies no one, which will not appreciably help students understand the evolution model, which will allow religionist teachers to keep presenting the evolution model as bogus and creationism as sound, and which leaves open the possibility of future interference and agitation by creationist religionazis. CNN reports:

Dueling theories of how the universe was created got a split decision Friday night from the Texas Board of Education, which required examination of “all sides of scientific evidence” in new science standards, but rejected language requiring teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. …

“Science loses. Texas loses, and the kids lose because of this,” board chairman Don McLeroy, a creationist, told the Dallas Morning News.

A final 13-2 vote approved language that will be printed in textbooks beginning in 2011 and remain there for 10 years, CNN affiliate KPRC-TV in Houston reported:

“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.”

While this directive sounds good, it’s specifically worded so as to allow creationist teachers an opportunity to throw doubt on evolution and introduce their religion to kids as an alternative. It’s eerily similar to “academic freedom” laws that creationists — er, “intelligent design” proponents — have pushed in other states, as the CNN article goes on to mention:

“Academic freedom” bills have emerged but failed in various state legislatures, the National Center for Science Education said.

An “academic freedom” act has been adopted as law in Louisiana, and there is legislation in Florida calling for an “academic freedom” bill that would mandate a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”

The center says such bills are strategies by creationists to appeal to the American sense of balance, and give the false sense that there are different sides to scientific issues such as evolution.

Creationists use this tendency to undermine the evolution model and continue to present it as questionable, even though it is nothing of the sort (again, as CNN mentions):

The scientific community has overwhelmingly scorned creationism and its latest incarnation, intelligent design, as a pretext for biblical explanations of how the world came to be, and asserts that there is no weakness or doubt in the scientific community about evolution.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences called for the public to be better informed about the importance of understanding and teaching evolution. The academy released a booklet titled “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” — the third explanation of evolution put out since 1984 by one of the nation’s leading scientific organizations.

Allow me to be perfectly clear: There is no scientific controversy over the validity of the evolution model, even though creationists — er, intelligent design proponents — say there is one. The truth is that the evolution model is both a theory and a fact.

The religionazis’ efforts to proselytize in public-school science classrooms have not, unfortunately, abated since their tactics were revealed as disingenuous during the course of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2004) — and declared so by a conservative, evangelical Christian appellate judge who’d been appointed by George W. Bush! Exposure of their duplicity, and their explicitly-outlined strategy to undermine science in the US and replace it with religion, has not shamed them at all … if anything, they’ve become even more vocal and vehement, moving on to other strategies, such as the aforementioned (and equally disingenuous) “academic freedom” bills.

Thus, they continue to lie to people when they claim to want to improve science education and promote what they call “academic freedom.” In truth, they want nothing of the sort. They want to destroy science as we know it, since they view it as a threat to their religionism.

One final note: Contrary to what religionazis like to say — and which CNN parroted at the beginning of the article — the evolution model is not and never will be a “theory of how the universe was created.” Evolution says absolutely nothing about the creation of the universe, which took place billions of years before evolution ever started. As a matter of fact, the evolution model also says nothing whatever about how life started on this planet. The evolution model describes only how life forms change over time — not how the universe came into existence, nor even how life began. Seems to me the first step in teaching this subject is getting one’s terminology straight — and CNN could go a long way toward that by correcting this article.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »