A Personal Plea: Let’s put Science Education in Public Schools on the RIGHT track

And get religious fundamentalists, who are only interested in furthering their own religious agenda,  OFF influential state boards of education.

Let’s start in Texas, where looney toon local dentist and Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy has been driving the agenda of the Texas State Board of Education. Don’t know about Don McLeroy? He was prominently featured recently in a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece entitled ‘How Christian Were the Founders?’ I’ll excerpt regarding the Texas State Board of Education and Dr. McLeroy:

Following the appeals from the public, the members of what is the most influential state board of education in the country, and one of the most politically conservative, submitted their own proposed changes to the new social-studies curriculum guidelines, whose adoption was the subject of all the attention — guidelines that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years. Gail Lowe — who publishes a twice-a-week newspaper when she is not grappling with divisive education issues — is the official chairwoman, but the meeting was dominated by another member. Don McLeroy, a small, vigorous man with a shiny pate and bristling mustache, proposed amendment after amendment on social issues to the document that teams of professional educators had drawn up over 12 months, in what would have to be described as a single-handed display of archconservative political strong-arming.

McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she “and her followers promoted eugenics,” that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” following Jimmy Carter’s presidency and that students be instructed to “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!” Nevertheless, most of McLeroy’s proposed amendments passed by a show of hands. (emphasis is mine)

Rather longish excerpt- but you get the point. Mr. McLeroy, a member (and former chair) of the Texas State Board of Education is infusing what will be published in textbooks that will be used all over this country from K-12, with his own personal agenda.  I’ve written about this topic in passing before, and so has the New York Times. Yes, this began just with what science textbooks in Texas would have in them, but it seems to be spreading to every damn textbook.

This is wrong people. WRONG.

What can you do about it??? Well, in my humble opinion, we need to remove such individuals from state boards of education. This takes dedicated people, and this takes money. Citizens in McLeroy’s own district need your help to take out radio and print ads to inform people of McLeroy’s dreadful record before next Tuesday’s open primary, where his membership on the State Board will be voted on.

To this end they have set up a website to collect donations which can be found here at SMART STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.

If you care about providing quality, factual, and non-ideologically driven public education for every child in this country I urge you to support this effort. You might think that this doesn’t affect you if you don’t live in Texas, but I promise you- no matter where you live in this country this will touch what your children learn in school.

Also, I urge similarly inclined bloggers to post something about this on their blogs as well…

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Nova, ID

Anyone watch Nova (Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial)  last night?  If you missed it, you can pick it up again right here.

For any of you who still think that teaching ‘Intelligent Design’ in science class is more about introducing students to a debate within the scientific community and less about introducing religion into public schools…. maybe this will lay it all out for you in color.  People of all religions (and people of no religion) should be outraged that folks with one particular set of religious beliefs have the gall to try to force their beliefs down your kids throats in public school.

I’m sorry- I know that what I say is going to be inflammatory. But it’s so blatant- I can not for the life of me understand how people can’t see that this is WRONG.

And for the record- I don’t have any particular prejudices against any particular religion- if people want to believe in the supernatural, I say let them have at it. But don’t try to push it off on others in public school science class.

The Ugly Story of Texas Curriculum Standards

This shit drives me up the wall.  When, when, when are we going to learn this:

….scientifically illiterate boards of education should leave the curriculum to educators and scientists who know what constitutes a sound education. (italics are mine)

Speaking as someone who sees those high school kids when they get to college, and med school- I’m begging state boards of education members to know the limits of their expertise, to keep their personal beliefs to themselves, to stop using their position of power to evangelize in PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASS, and generally to knock off the nonsense and let those kids learn some actual SCIENCE in science class.

It would do these kids a huge favor, and make my job easier.