Republicans in Texas want to select science textbooks that specifically include either intelligent design or creationism.
This post originally appeared at Occupy Democrats
By Courtney Lynn
The GOP has not been shy in expressing their personal beliefs while in public office. Republicans across the nation are busy trying to make policy, and in some cases actually making policy, regarding their religious predispositions. From anti-choice legislation to gay marriage, the Republicans have been stoic in their stance against them. All because they have a personal, religious belief that they say shapes their moral character and prompts them to try and force it onto others.
Even though the current laws the Republicans are passing and trying to pass are repugnant, none are more damaging than what Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE) is doing right now. The board members are currently reviewing what science books they will allow to be used in the Texas public school system.
Who controls the educational content kids receive in Texas?
While a board of education is taking a look at these books, do not take comfort in that fact. The TSBOE elects its members and out of the 15 members, 10 members are Republican. The board members include:
- Barbara Cargill – R (Chair)
- Thomas Ratliff – R (Vice Chair)
- Mavis Knight – D
- Tom Maynard – R
- Sue Melton-Malone – R
- Martha Dominquez – D
- Geraldine Mille – R
- Marisa Perez – D
- Patricia Hardy– R
- Lawrence Allen Jr. – D
- David Bradley – R
- Ken Mercer – R
- Donna Bahorich – R
- Marty Rowley – R
- Ruben Cortez – D
There is also a review board of 28 members who are also looking at which science books to use, but not all of them are known. 28 total invites were sent from the TSBOE, but only 12 actually showed up for the review held in Austin, TX.
There are 6 members who are known to be on the review board and they are all Creationists. According to an article on the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) Insider, the 6 Creationists are:
Raymond Bohlin is vice president of vision outreach for Probe Ministries in Plano and a research fellow for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
Walter Bradley is a retired Baylor University professor of engineering who coauthored a book, The Mystery of Life’s Origins in 1984, that essentially launched the “intelligent design” movement. “Intelligent design” suggests a scientific basis for creationism (creationism dressed up in a lab coat).
Daniel Romo is a chemistry professor at Texas A&M University and is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Creation Science Hall of Fame website. We don’t know yet whether Romo made it to Austin for the biology review panel meetings.
Ide Trotter is a longtime standard-bearer for the creationist movement in Texas, both as a source of funding and as a spokesperson for the absurdly named creationist group Texans for Better Science Education. Trotter, listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Creation Science Hall of Fame website, is a veteran of the evolution wars at the SBOE and is participating the biology review panel meetings this week
Richard White, a systems (network) engineer in Austin, testified at an SBOE hearing on the proposed science curriculum standards on March 25, 2009. At the time, he advocated the inclusion of phony “weaknesses” of evolution in Texas science standards:
David Zeiger is a seventh-grade teacher at a Christian private school in North Texas. He holds a biochemistry degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. In 2009 he and his wife, Heather,opposed removing from the state’s science curriculum standards the requirement that students learn about so-called “weaknesses” of evolution.
Changing education to misinformation is a Texas past-time
Texas Republicans have been known to change a curriculum based on a belief rather than the actual facts. In 2010 Texas made history, (literally), by re-writing history. The New York Times (NYT) wrote a piece about this issue in March of 2010 citing one specific piece of history the TSBOE was considering:
“Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.”
Learning all sides of history is important, but what the Blank Panthers did was a reaction not a separate action to the racist and violent treatment of the African American community. The NYT article also stated that the TSBOE voted on the issue of changing the curriculum down party lines in a 10 to 5 vote. (The 10 Republicans all voted for the change).
Beliefs are not facts
Now the Republicans in Texas want to continue that path of misinforming children by selecting science textbooks that specifically include either intelligent design or creationism. While intelligent design is not as specifically religious as creationism, it still poses a threat to the education children will be receiving.
A lot of religious believers know that creationism is a hard pill to swallow when it comes to teaching it in public schools, which is why they have opted to go more for an intelligent design theory. Keep in mind that the theory of intelligent design is not the same as the theory of evolution. The term ‘theory’ can mean many things and this is where the confusion sets in.
If a person has a theory, it does not have to be based on facts or evidence. It can be just a thought or a hypothesis that may or may not be true. A scientific theory is a bit different, however. A scientific theory requires facts acquired through significant studies and evidence. That, ladies and gentleman is the biggest problem schools are facing when considering letting intelligent design be taught in schools.
The Republicans both in government and on the TSBOE have no clue what the difference is between a theory of intelligent design or creationism and a scientific theory. Unfortunately, neither does the majority of the population. Science is not something a lot of people are comfortable with because it is quite complicated to understand. According to Reporter News, “Nationally, Texas students rank 49th in the nation on the verbal portion and 46th on the math section of the SAT college preparatory exam.” So, can they really afford to have this debate?
We have said it before, “The Republican mantra is ‘Keep em dumb’”
This whole debate over teaching intelligent design or creationism in public schools should not even be happening. The belief in either of those is a personal, religious belief. If parents want their children taught that information, they can do so in church and at home. School is for learning not for indoctrinating. Although, some Republicans consider teaching science indoctrination, that again falls under the category of a personal belief and not an actual fact.
Unfortunately, Texas is not the only state considering allowing an “alternative to evolution” to be taught in science class in public schools. The Republicans are just continuing their assault on education because they know if a person has a good education, they are less likely to vote Republican. It is sad that Republicans only care about their political careers and not about actually giving children a proper education. In a global economy, we need more people educated in science and math and less debates about if a belief is greater than a fact.
If you are a Texas resident, you can sign the petition to Stand Up For Science here.
Photo: The Puzzler/Flickr