State Board of Education Seat is Not a Pulpit

Responding to the Texas state Senate failing to confirm religious antievolutionist Don McLeroy as chair of the State Board of Education, Sen. Steve Ogden went on the record:

Ogden decried much of the criticism of McLeroy as a “slur.”

“It is not fair to say that if you don’t believe Darwin’s theory of evolution or accept the argument that global warming is occurring, that you should not be on the State Board of Education,” he said.

Mr. Ogden, any concerned citizen could be on a state board of education. Any citizen holding unsubstantiated opinions about empirical research can hold a seat on such a board. However, when a person holding an unsubstantiated narrow sectarian viewpoint who uses their seat on such a board to push to have those views be promulgated as legitimate science, they are not only not doing the job that they are supposed to be doing, they are in malfeasance and have demonstrated by such bad behavior that they do not belong there.

You want kids to learn weird stuff in science classes? Pony up the appropriate ante: show that the arguments you favor have demonstrated their merit under scientific scrutiny and have convinced the scientific community of their worth. Until then, the best approach is to make sure that kids learn what science has to offer in their classes. If it is wrong, the researchers of tomorrow will have a better shot at showing it is wrong if they actually understand it in the first place. Trying to replace instruction with confusion, as McLeroy has consistently advocated, does no one any good.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

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

2 thoughts on “State Board of Education Seat is Not a Pulpit

  • 2009/05/30 at 2:02 pm
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    You state, “You want kids to learn weird stuff in science classes? Pony up the appropriate ante: show that the arguments you favor have demonstrated their merit under scientific scrutiny and have convinced the scientific community.”

    Kids are learning strange things in science, it’s not strange to you because it has been approved in your eyes. They are being taught to confined themselves in a black box unless they have permission to venture out.

    Speaking of black boxes, let’s take a look at the results of your endorsed teaching of science.

    Only 28% of the high school students taking the ACT. Out of those, no state reached 50 percent for college readiness for biology.

    Test scores for 12th graders in the sciences have actually declined from 1996 to 2005.

    Not very good at all, in fact pretty bad results from schools who teach evolution as dogma.

  • 2009/05/30 at 9:17 pm
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    Sorry, Michael, but one can’t use the current hobbled state of the system as evidence that science instruction done correctly sucks. The religious antievolution movement has done pretty well at making sure that coherent instruction in evolutionary science is not consistently or widely available. In fact, it’s more of an own goal on your part; we should note that the religious antievolution/antiscience likely is to blame for a substantial proportion of the poor performance measures.

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