Texas public schools and Christian Reconstructionism 7

[UPDATE (July 16): The new chair of the Texas State Board of Education is not Cynthia Dunbar, but another socially conservative member, Gail Lowe. Texas commentators say Lowe’s appointment will continue the anti-evolution, Reconstructionist bias of the board. The scary details are here.] JISHOU, HUNAN — After doing some research, I have concluded that Texas is just plain wacko. Perhaps some of you are not surprised at this news. Back in April, I wrote about the Texas State Board of Education’s efforts to weasel creationist ideas into the state science curriculum. Despite efforts by its overtly right-wing Christian chair, Donald McLeroy, and his cohorts on the board, most of the creationist ideas were tossed out. Since then, McLeroy’s heavyhanded tactics and nutball pronouncements about evolution and science cost him a lot of the support he had in the state legislature. He lost the chair of the SBOE. Republican Gov. Rick Perry now has to choose a new chair from the other board members. The leading candidate now is apparently Cynthia Dunbar, who may be even nuttier than McLeroy. Dunbar has accused — in print — presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of being a terrorist, and then refused to retract her ...

Deep in the heart of Texas …

JISHOU, HUNAN — Texas is a big state, with about 6 million schoolchildren. When the Texas State Board of Education speaks, textbook publishers listen. After all, if the publishers can sell their texts to Texas, it’s a big deal. It means money. So, when the Texas BOE met in March to discuss controversial changes to the state’s proposed science standards, science educators all over the USA were worried. Would the BOE, chaired by an unapologetic creationist, introduce language into the standards to allow the teaching of creationism and and its clone, Intelligent Design, in the Texas schools? To do so would be seriously damage science education in the Texas public schools. It would also likely influence textbook publishers’ treatment of evolution in biology texts, thereby affecting schools all over the USA. The Texas BOE is nearly evenly composed of creationists and more sensible members, so the results were by no means predictable. In the end, the original changes, as proposed by the openly anti-evolution chairman and board members, were rejected. Instead, the BOE passed more coyly worded standards that still could be used to introduce pseudo-science and religion into Texas classrooms, but did not exactly trample science teaching. Whether the ...
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