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 ...

The primary-secondary textbook mill exposed

A few posts back, I wrote about the efforts by anti-evolution members of the Texas State Board of Education to emasculate the state’s science standards. It was big news, because Texas periodically buys its textbooks en masse, giving it a disproportionate influence on the content of the nation’s school textbooks. To put it another way, if the Texas SBOE had mandated that Texas children learn about Intelligent Design in Biology or the steady-state-universe theory in Earth Science, the SBOE would then prefer to buy textbooks that cover such topics. So, textbook publishers would scramble to add this content to their existing texts to remain competitive. If the changes were limited to Texas, it would be bad for Texas schoolchildren. But textbook publishers cannot offer 50 or more different textbooks versions, one for each state and territory of the USA. It would be neither feasible nor economic. So they target their textbooks’ content to the three biggest buyers, Texas, California and Florida. Tamim Ansary, who used to work in the textbook field, wrote an expose of sorts about the textbook mill for Edutopia in 2004. It’s been reprinted on the Edutopia website, and well worth the read, especially if you have ...
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