The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Progress in Texas

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 4, 2009

In the ongoing soap opera that is the science vs. nonsense battle on the Texas State Board of Education, it seems that the right-wing creationist ideologues are losing.  The Austin-American Statesman published an article that outlines how these nutjobs are finally running afoul of the Legislature in Texas…

Senate confirmation of Board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is dead in the water, the Nominations Committee chairman said Thursday.

The House of Representatives approved a constitutional amendment Monday that would move the investment decisions about the $17.5 billion Permanent School Fund away from the board to an appointed council of financial professionals.

And a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill to take away the elected board’s authority over curriculum and textbooks.

A convergence of high-profile, bloody curriculum battles and controversial comments from some board members caught the attention of the legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, who could leave the somewhat obscure body headless and toothless after this session.

Folks, this is excellent news! :)  What it means is that the Texas BoEd could no longer have the capability to influence public school science standards & textbook selection, which is why creationists have targeted it for so long in an effort to push their religiously-oriented pseudoscience.

The really nice thing about this effort to strip the Board of its often mis-used authority is that it is bipartisan in nature.  Basically, things have apparently gotten so out of hand that the poiliticians involved have put aside their political differences to deal with the situation…

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, authored the bill that would remove the board’s textbook and curriculum authority; it is pending in the Education Committee.

He said the ideological direction of the board is all right with him now that Republicans are in charge.

“What happens when the worm turns and my party is no longer in the majority?” Seliger asked.

He said the long-term best practice is to take the partisanship and politics out of the decisions about educational materials.

Well said, Senator.  It’s sad that the state of Texas had to go through so much acrimony & embarrassment over the years for its leaders to come to this conclusion, but better late than never, I suppose.

Incidentally, you would think that with the Legislature poised to give the creationists a much-deserved beat down, these folks would clue in that perhaps they’re on the wrong track… and you would be wrong.  The right-wing faction of the Board is so far gone, so married to their insane religious fundamentalism, that they seem to think that they’re untouchable.  This is evidenced by some of their most recent actions, as reported by the Texas Freedom Network…

The Texas State Board of Education is set to appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel that includes absurdly unqualified ideologues who are hostile to public education and argue that laws and public policies should be based on their narrow interpretations of the Bible.

TFN has obtained the names of “experts” appointed by far-right state board members. Those panelists will guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. They include David Barton of the fundamentalist, Texas-based group WallBuilders, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences, and the Rev. Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerance of homosexuality.

What this shows is that even though the creationists may be going down, they seem to be doing everything they can to take the public education system in Texas down with them.  This is what I refer to as the “scorched earth” approach – if they cannot write the rules, these fundamentalist jerks prefer to wreck everything.  Nice.

As this recent turn of events has shown, a committed and sustained effort by those of us on the side of science & reason can have a positive effect.  If you’re interested in getting involved, I suggest hooking up with the folks over at the Texas Freedom Network. Sign up, get involved, and show these loons that you don’t mess with Texas!

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2 Responses to “Progress in Texas”

  1. [...] Original post by mattusmaximus [...]

  2. [...] by mattusmaximus on May 29, 2009 For the last few months, I have been following the fight against creationists in Texas on this blog. Well today the side of science & reason won a big fight – the chairman of the Texas Board [...]

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