Skip to comments.McLeroy opposed as board of ed leader (Texas Creationist)
Posted on 05/25/2009 8:06:06 PM PDT by trumandogz
AUSTIN Senate Democrats say they have more than enough votes to remove Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education Tuesday when McLeroys confirmation reaches the Senate floor.
(Excerpt) Read more at chron.com ...
McLeroy. An Irish homeboy.
Democrats and Atheists are taking their stand in Austin.
Perhaps it will bring a brief twinge of joy to Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Here is Ken Mercer’s response:
Response to Editorial Boards Attacks on the State Board of Education (SBOE)
Change in education is hard. Texas has many people who are deeply entrenched — education bureaucrats / lobbyists (a.k.a., educrats) who make their living off education dollars but who devote their lives to defeating any true education reform involving real change.
For decades educrats controlled education standards, and our students scores show that: 44 states scored higher in English than did Texas on the ACT (Graduating Class of 2008); 40 states scored higher in Reading . On the SAT, 42 states scored higher on the grammar/usage section than did Texas ; on the essay, 43 states scored higher.
The Commission for a College Ready Texas reported that 50 % of college freshmen in Texas are unprepared and have to enroll in remedial or developmental education classes.
My core mission on the SBOE is to strengthen public education. In the last two years, SBOE conservatives won numerous battles including explicit phonics, grammar, usage, spelling, expository and persuasive writing, research-writing, back-to-basics math, and new world-class science standards.
Now Editorial Boards are attacking those victories. I suggest that instead of repeating the oft-quoted sound bites from the educrats, perhaps the Editorial Boards might actually want to review the online recordings of the SBOE proceedings. These audio clips are posted on the Texas Education Agencys website for easy access to the public.
For example, at the January 2009 meeting, the SBOE debated the new standards for Science. I noted on the public record that the SBOE was in 99% agreement with the science experts document. The only point of contention was whether students should have the right to ask questions and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of any theory, including the theory of evolution.
At the March 2009 SBOE public hearing, I asked several science experts if they believe we created world-class standards for each area of science including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science. They agreed.
However, various experts in evolution opposed giving students the freedom to discuss and honestly question all scientific theories, especially evolution.
Fifteen thousand constituent emails and seven hundred scientists disagreed with those experts.
Texas new world-class Science standards passed 13-2 with the clear legislative intent that Texas students should have the freedom to raise their hands in class and ask questions.
This April the Nominations Committee of the Texas Senate held a hearing to confirm Dr. Don McLeroy (R- College Station) as Chairman of the SBOE.
Liberal activists and evolutionists, including Kathy Miller of the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network and Dr. Wetherington of Southern Methodist University, spoke in opposition to McLeroys nomination.
Even Miller had to admit that McLeroy is a really nice man Wetherington added that McLeroy treated everyone fairly.
Attorney Jonathan Saenz testified: Don McLeroy bent over backwards to be fair. Saenz believes the opposition is based on McLeroys personal religious convictions, not his leadership.
One Democrat Senator attacked McLeroy for a religious statement he made at Grace Bible Church in College Station. McLeroy replied, Well, thats what I teach my 4th grade Sunday school class. The Senator never questioned the overwhelming presence and impact of Texas and California atheists and secular humanists who testified frequently during the public hearings on the Science standards.
Finally, Editorial Boards are now promoting a falsehood that the newly adopted standards somehow contain religious doctrine put there by the SBOE conservatives.
That is a lie. I challenge every Editorial Board in Texas to go online and review all of the new Math, Reading , Grammar, Writing, Spelling, and Science standards (http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/). The press will not find any references ZERO — to anyones religion. What they will find, however, are world-class standards for Texas students.
Hon. Ken Mercer
Member: Texas State Board of Education
Even Texas is tiring of ignorance. Now they need to do something about their illegal aliens.
...I challenge every Editorial Board in Texas to go online and review all of the new Math, Reading , Grammar, Writing, Spelling, and Science standards...
O.K. I did just that.
The suggestion that students are encouraged to ask questions about "any theory" is a little misleading. In fact the guidelines do try, to some degree, to single out evolution for special qualification not applied to other theories and principles.
I found this easily. It was easy because experience told me what to look for. So first a bit of history.
I last closely followed Texas evolution controversies -- hmmm, I don't remember for sure, but I wanna say it was around 15 years ago, I think maybe 1992 or '93. This was when evolution was first being formally reintroduced into Texas textbook standards after having been absent from the guidelines for many years. The controversy then concerned the textbook "Proclamation," a different but similar document.
Back then Texas anti-evolutionists adopted a tactic that is commonly used by their ilk when they cannot manage to overtly either remove evolution or insert creationism: Try to make evolution seem somehow weak, questionable or suspect in comparison to the rest of the content of science.
What they did in the 90's was to insert a particular provision into the guidelines. I don't recall the language exactly, but something to the effect of, "students shall consider evidence for and against scientific theories".
Sounds fine, right? We don't want science taught dogmatically.
Well, the truth is anti-evolutionists (and this has been universal and consistent in my experience) do want science taught dogmatically. They want it taught as dogmatically as possible; everything, that is, except for evolution, and a few other things they disagree with. The reason for this is so that evolution can be made to seem questionable and unscientific by contrast to other theories and principles in the texts or curricula.
So how was this done? After all, the "evidence for and against" language was in a general provision of the textbook guidelines. However, throughout the subject matter sections, there were directives to "see section so-and-so" (the section with the "evidence for and against" language) whenever evolution was mentioned, and only then.
No other scientific theory or principle included a reference to the "for and against" language. This was helped along by the fact that the anti-evolutionists had also edited the document to ensure that the word "theory" was consistently used in connection evolution, but was avoided when mentioning scientific theories to which they did not object.
It was a cute little trick. Anti-evolutionists could posture as being opposed to dogmatism, even while they were actually being only very, very selectively (and self-servingly) anti-dogmatic. And, of course, to be selectively "anti-dogmatic" is to in truth to promote dogmatism.
It's one of those instances where you have to stand by a general principle, but anti-evolutionists won't. I've never known an anti-evolutionist to endorse a genuinely neutral and universal commitment to non-dogmatism wrt to science education. To do so would defeat the over-riding end of singling out evolution for special qualification.
So, anyway, in reviewing these current science standards, even though I haven't read anything on the subject previously, and haven't been following the controversy this time around, I knew exactly what to look for. I also knew for certain -- simply because the anti-evolutionists are again posturing as being anti-dogmatic -- that it would be there. There would be some sort of special language applied only to evolution and not to other scientific theories.
It took me about 30 seconds to find it.
Go for instance to the High School science standards here. Find the language by searching on the phrase, "analyze and evaluate." Notice that (excepting two or three times wrt to environmentalist ideas including once wrt to global warming) it is only evolutionary ideas which students are directed to "analyze and evaluate". (Evolution is covered in §112.34.(c).7)
Once again, as before, there is the general language also. Under a "process skills" section before each subject section it is stated that the student is expected to:
in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student;
And that's nice. But, again, only wrt to evolution is the "analyze and evaluate" formula repeated in direct connection with the specific "science concept" elements. For instance look at the section (6) on genetics just above the evolution section and notice that "analyze and evaluate" is replaced with "identify," "recognize," "explain," or "describe." IOW genetic theories are treated as facts to be recognized, and evolution as theories to be evaluated.
I will grant, btw, that the current document is relatively less objectionable than the textbook Proclamation I analyzed back in the 90's and described above. "Analyze and evaluate" is better and more neutral than "consider evidence for and against." For instance the later language assumes that there is evidence against theories worthy of comparable consideration to the evidence for them, when in fact a scientific hypothesis would fail to achieve or maintain the status of theory if this were the case.
Also the anti-evolutionists were in this case stymied by the presence, in the guidelines, of an accurate definition of a scientific theory, which apparently they decided they could not get away with editing out:
...scientific hypotheses are tentative and testable statements that must be capable of being supported or not supported by observational evidence. Hypotheses of durable explanatory power which have been tested over a wide variety of conditions are incorporated into theories...
...scientific theories are based on natural and physical phenomena and are capable of being tested by multiple independent researchers. Unlike hypotheses, scientific theories are well-established and highly-reliable explanations, but they may be subject to change as new areas of science and new technologies are developed...
That language was definitely put in there by a pro-science person. It effectively prevented anti-evolutionists using their usual tactic of calling only evolution a "theory," and then treating it as little better than a weak hypothesis. (I happen to know that back in the 90's creationist opponents discussed the need for an accurate definition of scientific theories in future such documents for just this reason.)
So, in sum, even though the result this time is relatively far less objectionable than in the past, it's obvious that anti-evolutionists have been editing this document to slip in what they could. It's interesting to find -- like an old dog -- they're up to the same tricks.
Do you really think they should be dogmatic in teaching abiogenesis and universal common descent?
I think the various scientific theories, laws, hypotheses, principles, processes, etc, should all be taught equally dogmatically, or equally non-dogmatically, with duly varying emphasis based on the relative standing and importance of each, and with adjustments as necessary for practical heuristic needs and limitations, BUT WITHOUT ANY REGARD to pressures originating from extra-scientific ideological or philosophical identity groups who either favor certain theories (e.g. leftists and environmentalism) or disfavor certain theories (e.g. fundamentalists and evolution).
IOW, they should be taught objectively.
What I object to is the antievolutionist strategy of advocating selectively "non-dogmatic" treatment only for the theories they dislike -- and teaching remaining subject matter pretty much as though there were no question about it -- as a trick to make those theories seem questionable by comparison.