Yecke Appointment Gets Noticed

Cheri Pierson Yecke’s appointment as Florida’s K-12 Chancellor got media attention today. The notice ran from the unexamined stance of the Star Banner that Yecke “previously served as commissioner of education for Minnesota” to the editorial in the Lakeland Ledger that said, “The wish of the University of Minnesota’s biology professor that Yecke become someone else’s headache has come true. She’s coming to Florida, beginning Oct. 1.”

The St. Petersburg Times ran two stories on Yecke. The one by Steve Bousquet takes note in passing that Minnesota failed to confirm her in the job of Education Commissioner. The article by Ron Matus delves much deeper into Yecke’s history of controversy in education administration.

The Lakeland Ledger editorial, Happy to See Her Go?, includes the quote of the day given above. They end with, “Don’t be surprised if, this time next year, a biology professor at a Florida university is posting a Weblog that pleads: ‘Texas, Georgia, somewhere else? Could you hire Yecke and take her away?'”

I was mentioned in the Ledger editorial, but they had an incomplete affiliation for me. I took advantage of their email address for sending letters to the editor to correct that and add a comment about Yecke’s reported stance.

While it is nice to see my name mentioned in my hometown newspaper
(“Happy to See Her Go?”, 08/31), I should note that my affiliation is
the National Center for Science Education
(http://ncseweb.org). Yecke’s notion that students should be given an
acknowledgement that there are different beliefs is misguided
in the context of science instruction. Students should be be made
aware that socio-political differences of opinion, such as
antievolution, are a topic for civics, not science. For science, what
matters is not belief but rather the consilience of theory with
the empirical evidence. It is in this arena that antievolution has
been a complete failure, with no theoretical content of its own and
empirical disconfirmation of whatever claims it does make. Students
aren’t dumb; they deserve to get their science instruction straight up
without the dilution of antievolution politics.

We’ll see whether that runs or not.

Update: Yes, they did run my letter. Cool!

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.