Reckoning Approaches for State Ed Board?

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I can tell you there are people on the SBOE who vilify public education as the work of the devil. And I wonder how they can have a sincere interest in advancing the education of our school-age children with an attitude that public education is an evil entity. So I believe that this represents a very logical and tangible alternative to what we currently have.

  — Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, speaking at a Senate Education Committee hearing today on a bill to rein in the Texas State Board of Education

The current session of the Texas Legislature has seen an unprecedented number of bills filed that would remove or otherwise rein in the authority of the embarrassment that the state board has become. The Senate Education Committee this morning heard testimony on one such bill — Senate Bill 2275 — that would remove the SBOE’s role in adopting textbooks and curriclum and transfer it to the state’s education commissioner. Sen. Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, authored the bill with two other Republican and one Democratic senator, clear evidence that exasperation with the state board crosses party lines.

The hearing this morning featured a parade of witnesses (including TFN President Kathy Miller) testifying to the state board’s unfair processes, divisive ideological history and outright ineptitude. The speakers represented diverse subject areas ranging from science to language arts to mathematics. Nearly all were critical of the highly-politicized, convoluted process of adopting curriculum and textbooks that had done damage to their respective disciplines.

But the most interesting comments at the hearing came from committee members themselves, most of whom seemed very receptive to the bill.  Sen. Seliger was especially persuasive in responding to Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s questions about the reasons for this bill, explaining in detail the failure of the current process to properly respect the work of teachers and subject-area experts. Then came a devastating indictment of the board from Republican Sen. Averitt that perfectly summarized the case against the board:

Every once in a while you’ll find an instance where an elected body is diverted from their prescribed mission, and the prescribed mission here is to provide the best educational  materials to our school children. And I’ll tell you my experience with the State Board of Education has been nothing but the worst case or example of partisan bickering and fighting, Republicans and Democrats alike.

The full transcipt of Sen. Averitt’s speech in the Senate Education Committee appears after the jump.

Sen. Seliger brought forward a committee substitute for his bill that preserves a more appropriate role for the elected members of the state board (allowing them to make changes at the end of the adoption process only with a four-fifths super-majority). The bill was left pending in committee this morning because the author is considering further changes to the bill, including:

  1. Adding a more formal role for college and university professors who are subject-area experts.
  2. Adding language that forces the commissioner of education to publicly disclose reasons for changing any part of the recommendation that comes from the teacher/professor workgroup process. 

TFN believes this bill — particular with these two additions — represents a dramatic improvement over the existing process.

Sen. Averit’s full statement before the Senate Education Committee this morning:

Of course, I am a believer in the electoral process. It serves our country well and it has for several hundred years now. 

Every once in a while you’ll find an instance where an elected body is diverted from their prescribed mission, and the prescribed mission here is to provide the best educational  materials to our school children. And I’ll tell you my experience with the State Board of Education has been nothing but the worst case or example of partisan bickering and fighting, Republicans and Democrats alike.

All I hear is the Republicans want to push their religious views into the curriculum and the Democrats want to teach our children how to masturbate. (Laughter from the audience.) I even wondered how they do that, but that’s. . . . My point is, I believe that the SBOE, right, wrong, or indifferent, is expressing extreme political views in their deliberations, and I’m not sure that we’re serving the best interests of our children at this time.

Senator Seliger offers a completely logical alternative to that position, and whether or not these people are experts or not, I can tell you there are people on the SBOE who vilify public education as the work of the devil. And I wonder how they can have a sincere interest in advancing the education of our school-age children with an attitude that public education is an evil entity. So I believe that this represents a very logical and tangible alternative to what we currently have.

We certainly have to weigh the fact that these were elected folks. So maybe they, maybe we, have elected them for the wrong mission, and I think Senator Seliger’s alternative here is putting that part of the mission back to where educators have a significant say and professionals in the education field are engaged in the process of determining what our children are reading in their textbooks. So I applaud Senator Seliger for bringing this forward.

Archived video of today’s (April 14) committee hearing is available here. The committee took up SB 2275 shortly after the 40-minute mark.

36 Responses to “Reckoning Approaches for State Ed Board?”

  1. Joe Lapp Says:

    I don’t think a 4/5 majority vote is going to solve the problem. Several of the anti-evolution changes were done with 13-2 votes.

    Fundamentally, the problem is that the board is unqualified to change the curriculum at all. The moment that elected officials begin voting on a curriculum, the curriculum becomes political.

    I think the circus will only end when we have qualified professionals write the curriculum and choose the textbooks, and no one else.

  2. James F Says:

    This is really encouraging. I hope this also means that the bills to re-introduce “strengths and weaknesses” and to grant the ICR the ability to award science degrees will die in committee.

  3. Charles Says:

    Okay. I sent a relatively short, articulate, and level-headed message to Senator Averitt kindly asking him and his colleagues to kick the Texas SBOE’s butt to somewhere beyond the edge of the known universe in a place where no traveling light has ever reached. The extremists should all feel at home there. Uh-oh, message from Cynthia Dunbar to Don McLeroy coming in over a subspace communications channel:

    Cynthia: “Don, why is it that the people will not hear right doctrine”?

    Don: “I just don’t know. Why is it that the people will not hear right doctrine!!??

    Charles: Aw!!! You two!!! That’s easy. Its because your so-called right doctrine is NOT RIGHT. YOU SEE. IT’S NOT GOD’S DOCTRINE. IT’S YOUR OWN PERSONAL DOCTRINE. If you will go to Matthew 23, you will find that God does not honor personally-conceived right doctrine—even if it has some arguable basis in scripture. Besides, just a guess on my part, I would bet he is tired of hearing all the Religious Right lies that have been told in support of assorted positions for the past 30 years—passed off as clever PR strategy—but lies in their essence nonetheless. He knows a lie or deception when he sees one, and the KJV Bible makes it clear that he does not like such things. It seems to me that He is unlikely to honor those deceptions with any kind of real victory.

  4. Charles Says:

    Uh-oh. Another subspace communication is coming in from Cynthia and Don. Let’s see what is is:

    “No deceptions, huh. Well, smarty pants, what do you think God might honor then.”

    Well guys. If you think about it, your camp has actually never really tried just plain old, baseline honesty. So you really do not know whether it would work. In your heads, you just ASSUME that it would not work without ever really trying it to see.

    For example, let’s assume you do not believe in the concept of “…separation of church and state…” You do not deal with that by pretending that the founding fathers really had no such concept and then try to revise American history to fit some sort of conjured up fantasy about it. That is really dumb because the history books written by legitimate historians (many of them Christians) will always contradict the deception. It is like lying to your mother. You might fool a few people, but you will always get caught and everything will unravel under the microscope of honesty. And as I said before, God is unlikely to honor such a lie or deception with fruit. So, here is what you do. Here is raw, baseline honesty:

    1) You acknowledge that the founding fathers did indeed have the separation of church and state in mind as the underpinning for the First Amendment like the real history says. That is pure honesty and truth. You guys know that. Heck, Cynthia. You know that. Your law school professors at Liberty University may have had some BS spin on that, but even you can read and understand legal textbooks on your own. You are smart. You know it’s there.

    2) Instead, you argue to the public what you really believe—honestly. We have tried separation of church and state for 220 years. It was no doubt a noble concept that the founding fathers were willing to take a chance on and put into the First Amendment. However, after 222 years, we believe that it has been a failure—and state your honest reasons why you think it has failed—no public relations BS, spins, or decptions—just raw honesty—straight up.

    3) Because it has failed it needs to be changed.

    4) Based on the mechanisms set forth in the U.S. constitution, push for a constitutional convention to revise the First Amendment in a manner more to your liking—a manner that you think will rectify the failures. Be honest. No BS. No decptions. No spin.

    5) Be honest about what you want. Examine yourself honestly. If you really want to revise the U.S. constitution to specifically state that “…Bible-Believing Christianity shall become the official national religion of the United States…” Then say that. Be honest. Be straight up. Be four-square. Be dead on. Work for that.

    Now, I hear you. You are already mumbling. That could never work. You can think of 100 reasons right away that it would never work. How do you know? Have you ever tried it? If God is on your side, at least in principle, maybe He would appreciate the refreshing honesty for once. If he could really part the Red Sea, maybe he could part this seeming Red Sea too.

  5. Larry Fafarman Says:

    A lot of what I want to say here I already said in the following comment in another thread —

    http://tfnblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/major-sboe-bill-up-for-hearing-at-capitol/#comment-2833

    Some of what I say below repeats ideas I stated in my above comment.

    Senator Averitt said,
    –I can tell you there are people on the SBOE who vilify public education as the work of the devil. —

    So far as I know, only Cynthia Dunbar holds that position, and she is just one out of 15.

    Possible change to the bill:
    –Adding a more formal role for college and university professors who are subject-area experts.–

    (1) There is no reason to give subject-area experts’ opinions any deference or extra weight on issues where subject-area expertise is not required.

    (2) Five of the seven “fundies” on the board have strong backgrounds in science (I am including Don McLeroy in this group because he is an EE grad and EE grads are strong in math and physical science), at least three of them in biology.

    (3) If Judge John E. Jones III, who has no scientific background, was qualified to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design after hearing testimony from experts, then why isn’t the Texas Board of Education qualified to make decisions about the Texas science standards?

    Another possible change to the bill:
    –Adding language that forces the commissioner of education to publicly disclose reasons for changing any part of the recommendation that comes from the teacher/professor workgroup process. —

    That’s just plain stupid — who would decide what reasons are valid?

    Averitt said,
    –We certainly have to weigh the fact that these were elected folks. So maybe they, maybe we, have elected them for the wrong mission, and I think Senator Seliger’s alternative here is putting that part of the mission back to where educators have a significant say and professionals in the education field are engaged in the process of determining what our children are reading in their textbooks. —

    So Sen. Averitt thinks that he and the college professors always know better than the voters? That’s snobbery. Why in the hell should general members of the public even bother learning science if their opinions about it are not going to be respected? It is Sen. Averitt who was elected for the wrong mission.

    Supporters of these bills are trying to overturn the results of fair elections. For example, the two fundies on the board who were strongly challenged in the last election kept their seats.

    I wonder if the SBOE members have responded yet to these attacks. The chairman of the Kansas SBOE gave demagogic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius hell for trying a similar power grab in Kansas.

    Joe Lapp Says (April 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm) —
    –I don’t think a 4/5 majority vote is going to solve the problem. Several of the anti-evolution changes were done with 13-2 votes.–

    That should tell you something.

    –The moment that elected officials begin voting on a curriculum, the curriculum becomes political. I think the circus will only end when we have qualified professionals write the curriculum and choose the textbooks, and no one else.–

    These professionals can be as political as anyone else.

    TFN said,
    –Sen. Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, authored the bill with two other Republican and one Democratic senator, clear evidence that exasperation with the state board crosses party lines.–

    In the 2008 party platform and in a March 2009 resolution, the Texas Republican party supported the “strengths and weaknesses” language —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/03/texas-gop-asks-gop-members-of-school.html

    The Texas Senate has 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats (according to the Texas Senate website). The Texas House of Representatives has 76 Republicans and 74 Democrats (according to Wikipedia).

  6. JohnC Says:

    Larry Fafarman, thanks for your post. It was interesting. I have just a few comments to make…

    >> “So Sen. Averitt thinks that he and the college professors always know better than the voters? That’s snobbery.”

    Words like “snobbery” and “elitism” are pejorative, but if you strip away the negative connotation, I absolutely think we need snobbery in this case. I don’t think it is appropriate for non-experts to set curricula. Experts here would include both subject matter (e.g. biology) and educational experts. If my kid needs medical attention, then by all means apply snobbery and chose only the best Dr. for the job. But if my kid needs an education, I should be OK with “general members of the public” determining what is taught? No I shouldn’t. I want the best, and that comes from people with advanced, specialized, and current training and expertise in the appropriate areas.

    >> “Why in the hell should general members of the public even bother learning science if their opinions about it are not going to be respected?”

    This smacks of the “chicken and the egg” problem. Unfortunately, a recent study in the journal Science (11 Aug 2006) presented results showing that of 34 industrialized nations around the world, there was only one country whose public acceptance of evolution was LOWER than the U.S. (we are #33 out of #34!). In this study, fully 50% of the US public believes evolution is “false”. Countries like Japan, UK, Germany, France, and Italy are far ahead of the US in public acceptance of evolution. This of course is completely at odds with acceptance within scientific circles (TFN sponsored study in Texas is relevant in this regard). So at least as it relates to evolution, and hence biology, I do not respect the opinion of the general public (luckily, I am not running for office!). But that is exactly what we should be trying to change! We can certainly be hopeful for improved public understanding of science in the future if we require them to learn sound science through an appropriately defined curriculum today.

    Thanks for reading, John

  7. DaveY Says:

    ….”There is no reason to give subject-area experts’ opinions any deference or extra weight on issues where subject-area expertise is not required.”

    Larry, if a geologist said the hill beneath your house was going to creep in a landslide, but then a dentist—who by your reasoning should know something about science—said it was ok, whom would you believe?

    The point is here that experts virtually always know more than the average person in the street, because they spend their lives studying the subject area. It is nonsensical to argue against that. Just because there are so-called scientists and biologists on the Board, doesn’t mean they have the same level of experience & understanding (I would bet on a research professor against a teaching credential any day). The Board ignored that expertise to insert their own pseudoscientific notions, which have NO support from the wide scientific community.

    ….”So Sen. Averitt thinks that he and the college professors always know better than the voters? That’s snobbery. Why in the hell should general members of the public even bother learning science if their opinions about it are not going to be respected?…”

    So Larry, if you ever need a filling or root canal, by your reasoning I assume that a general member of the public is just as qualified to do it as a dentist, because they have an opinion that must be respected, and if you inform them they don’t understand what they’re talking about you’re a snob? sigh….

    The truth is, experts DO know. The general public’s opinion is valid if it can be grounded in science, otherwise it lacks rigor. That’s why we don’t have any old Joe/Josephine Q. Public building our bridges, or looking for oil…

  8. Larry Fafarman Says:

    JohnC Says: (April 15, 2009 at 12:41 pm) —
    –>> “So Sen. Averitt thinks that he and the college professors always know better than the voters? That’s snobbery.”

    I don’t think it is appropriate for non-experts to set curricula. —

    Please note the word “always” in my sentence — I put that word in there because the college professors sometimes know better than the voters. As I said, there are some issues that do not require expertise. One of those issues is the “strengths and weaknesses” language (I prefer “strengths and criticisms” because invalid criticisms are not real weaknesses, but that is another matter), because it can be argued that there can be good reasons for teaching invalid criticisms of scientific theories, e.g., the following reasons: broadening students’ education, encouraging critical thinking, preventing and correcting misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated criticisms are taught only by qualified science teachers. You Darwinists talk out of both sides of your mouths — you say that these criticisms of evolution only “confuse” students and you also say that you want these criticisms to be taught by unqualified people, e.g., typical parents and typical Sunday school & social studies teachers. Also, even if there are no valid criticisms now, valid criticisms might be discovered in the future.

    –Experts here would include both subject matter (e.g. biology) and educational experts.–

    As I pointed out, four of the board’s seven fundies have BS degrees, and at least three of those degrees are in biology. Some of them have taught science. McLeroy has an EE degree, and EE’s are strong in math and the physical sciences.

    Also, if it is not appropriate for non-experts to set curricula, then why was Judge Jones, who has no background in science (he has a bachelor of arts degree and a law degree), qualified to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design after hearing a few days of expert testimony?

    –a recent study in the journal Science (11 Aug 2006) presented results showing that of 34 industrialized nations around the world, there was only one country whose public acceptance of evolution was LOWER than the U.S. (we are #33 out of #34!).–

    Non-acceptance of evolution does not necessarily mean ignorance of evolution.

    Dave Y Says (April 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm) —
    –Just because there are so-called scientists and biologists on the Board, doesn’t mean they have the same level of experience & understanding–

    They are not just “so-called” scientists and biologists — four of the board’s seven fundies have BS degrees, at least three of them in biology, and some have taught science. McLeroy has an EE degree.

    –The truth is, experts DO know.–

    Experts also often have an ax to grind.

  9. eoAustin Says:

    Once again I say,,,,,, lets let the creationist get their fairy tale into the classroom and then it can finally die its natural and inevitibe death. I personally welcome a discussion of this topic in a scinece classroom instead of in a Sunday school class. Then the kids can hear how ridiculous what they have been force fed is. Open debate is usually the death of bad ideas.

  10. Joe J. Bernal Says:

    The 4/5 vote would certainly rein in some of the ridiculous positions the SBOE has taken re tying in creationism/intelligent design as alternatiave to science. The 13-2 vote was an anomaly.

    Becasue the SBOE chairman carries a degree of political power that goes with having been appointed by the Governor, the 13-2 vote seemed innocuos, however, it gave some members a way to get back into the good graces of the chair. That vote, however, will come back to haunt some of the 13 for it will be used to reopen the issue of creationism/intelligent design when it comes time for members to “correct mistakes” by the publishers. Correcting mistakes allows the SBOE to write curriculum when adopting textbooks…an issue that can also be corrected with a legislative act.

    Joe J. Bernal

  11. Coragyps Says:

    Larry says: “In the 2008 party platform and in a March 2009 resolution, the Texas Republican party supported the “strengths and weaknesses” language.”

    This would be the same 2008 party platform that said, “Americans with Disabilities Act – We support amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.

    Immunizations – All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.”?

    That platform?

  12. Rocket Mike Says:

    Letting the creationists get their fairy tale into the classroom is not an option, and they know it. They want to get around the legal prohibitions against teaching straight creationism by confusing high school sophomores with the seemingly innocuous “weaknesses”, which have been their same old worthless arguments for years. Considering the standings of Texas high school graduates with respect the other states, I don’t believe there are that many Texas high school sophomores that are Nobel Prize contenders and are ready to falsify the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary Theory with their hot hypotheses. Indoctrinate is not a bad word, and at the high school level that is about all you can fit in. You barely have time to get through the usual 1100-1200 page textbook, so you don’t have time for great debates about every myth and superstition. You hardly have enough time to teach real science.

    It is time for responsible Republicans to step up to the plate and challange the anti-science brigade. The districts they represent are so lopsided that Robert Gates could not get elected to the TSBOE if he ran as a Democrat. I know there are some conservative (not rabid regressive), qualified, mainstream Christian Republicans out there that respect science and the Constitution who would make excellent candidates for SBOE. Responsible people in those poorly represented districts need to start looking for those who would serve them well on the SBOE and get them to oust those nuts.

  13. Charles Says:

    You guys are wasting way too much energy on Larry—being as how it’s all going nowhere anyway.

  14. Charles Says:

    Some guys down in Texas are fruitcakes:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090416/ap_on_re_us/perry_secession

  15. b. j. edwards Says:

    Charles wrote…

    “You guys are wasting way too much energy on Larry—being as how it’s all going nowhere anyway.”

    Indeed. All hope is lost. Larry still thinks this is a valid question:

    – “If we are descended from apes, why are there still apes around? “

  16. Curly Says:

    Oh I know Charles. I just wanted to post two of his comments from other forums to show his attitude has never changed and show a pattern of not being able to have a proper conversation. I can’t wait to read his reply to this comment. People have called you out before Larry and you have never provided a single iota of substance. Prepare to ignore troll.

  17. Charles Says:

    Don’t you think it would be great to actually meet Larry somewhere—like maybe at a mall? I bet he is a lot like Beethoven:

    Beethoven’s Personality:

    In the midst of his gaining popularity, Beethoven gained quite an ego. If Beethoven for some reason did not like the audience he was to perform for, he would not play. If he were in the middle of a concert and a member of the audience was the slightest bit “out of place” (behavior wise) he would walk off of the stage. On top of having a great ego, Beethoven was quick to anger. One time Beethoven was eating a bowl of soup in a restaurant and he didn’t like the service he was receiving, so he poured the hot bowl of soup on the waiter and stood there laughing at the man. He also had a scuffle with his brother; Nikolaus Johann gave a business card to Beethoven that read: “Johann van Beethoven –landowner” Beethoven turned the card over and scribbled “Ludwig van Beethoven –brain owner.”

    Documents show that Beethoven was also poorly kept. He was short and stocky, and on many accounts reported as being ugly. His face was scarred from smallpox he had contracted as a child. He had a deep cleft on his chin, and a dark complexion. In his earlier years Beethoven dressed quite nicely, but in his later years his personal hygiene became much worse. Some of his friends admitted to sneaking in to Beethoven’s room and stealing his old clothes and burning them, only to replace them with new clothes. Beethoven was completely oblivious of these events.

  18. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Charles Says:
    –You guys are wasting way too much energy on Larry—being as how it’s all going nowhere anyway.–

    What is “going nowhere”? The bill? I sure hope so. But I am not going to stop protesting this ugly bill until it goes back to the deepest pit of hell from whence it came.

    TFN said,
    –Sen. Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, authored the bill with two other Republican and one Democratic senator, clear evidence that exasperation with the state board crosses party lines.–

    Also, three GOP members of the board voted against the “strengths and weaknesses” language after the state Republican party passed a special resolution urging them to support the language — the language needed only one more vote to pass. I wonder when the state GOP is going to rein in these renegade GOP politicians. The GOP has more than enough Senate votes to block this ugly bill — the Texas Senate has 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

    It would serve you Darwinists right if this bill passed and Ken Ham of Answers-in-Genesis were appointed Texas Commissioner of Education.

    –Sen. Seliger was especially persuasive in responding to Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s questions about the reasons for this bill, explaining in detail the failure of the current process to properly respect the work of teachers and subject-area experts.–

    I listened to that part of the hearing, and I don’t think that Sen. Seliger was “especially persuasive.” It all depends on your viewpoint.

    Possible change in the bill –
    –Adding a more formal role for college and university professors who are subject-area experts. —

    There was no lack of a “formal role” for college professors in creating the new Texas science standards.
    Of the six appointed expert panelists who submitted expert reports and were given a whole afternoon to testify orally before the SBOE, five are college professors and the sixth has a Ph.D in the philosophy of science. And merely being an expert doesn’t mean that you don’t have an ax to grind.

    Also, you Darwinists have moved the goalposts again. Before, you complained that the school board members know nothing about science. When I pointed out that some have science degrees and some have taught science, you started complaining that they don’t have Ph.D’s and are not college professors.

    Coragyps Says (April 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm) —
    –That platform?–

    I don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    In a comment in the Austin American-Statesman, Donna Garner wrote (4/14/2009 9:23:45 PM) —
    “I always think it is humorous when our elected Legislators want so badly to take away the right to have an elected State Board of Education. Do these Legislators think the healthy and sometimes heated debate on the floor of the Senate and the House are a bad thing? Do they think it would be better to have a dictator in the form of the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House to make all decisions over legislation?”

    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/04/15/0415stateboard.html#commentsanchor

    Excellent, Donna! The state senators who support this bill think that the SBOE and the public should be punished for even daring to debate the issues. These senators think that the SBOE public hearings on science education should be Darwinist love-fests. These senators probably think that the state’s science education rules should be dictated by that crackpot Chris Comer, the ousted former science director of the Texas Education Agency who couldn’t even follow the TEA’s neutrality policy regarding issues of the upcoming SBOE hearings on the new state science standards. These senators think that the arrogant college professors always know what’s best for the public. These senators kowtow to the college professors while poking a finger in the eye of the general public.

    An article in the Wall Street Journal said,
    “As crazy as the Texas Board of Education is, there are just as many crazies, percentage-wise, in the state Legislature,” said board member Pat Hardy.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123958070369412153.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

    I’ll drink to that.

    Rocket Mike Says (April 15, 2009 at 8:35 pm) —
    — They want to get around the legal prohibitions against teaching straight creationism by confusing high school sophomores with the seemingly innocuous “weaknesses” —

    As I said, you Darwinists are talking out of both sides of your mouths — you say that these “weaknesses” confuse students, yet you want these weaknesses to be taught by unqualified people, e.g., typical parents and typical Sunday school & social studies teachers.

    — which have been their same old worthless arguments for years. —

    Wrong — a lot of the arguments are of fairly recent origin, e.g., arguments concerning the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting cascade. My arguments about coevolution are apparently very new — I have not been able to find them elsewhere on the Internet. And some arguments are “oldies but goodies.”

    –Considering the standings of Texas high school graduates with respect the other states, I don’t believe there are that many Texas high school sophomores that are Nobel Prize contenders and are ready to falsify the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary Theory with their hot hypotheses. —

    What are you implying here — that other states may have high school sophomores who are Nobel Prize contenders? Anyway, this lack of Nobel Prize contenders is a good reason why students — as well as teachers — should not be depended upon to bring up criticisms of evolution theory on their own. Criticisms should be raised by the textbooks.

    –you don’t have time for great debates about every myth and superstition. —

    That’s a straw man — no one is proposing that there be great debates of every myth and superstition.

    –I know there are some conservative (not rabid regressive), qualified, mainstream Christian Republicans out there that respect science and the Constitution who would make excellent candidates for SBOE.–

    These “mainstream Christian Republicans” are phony “cafeteria Christians.” It is hypocritical to say that evolution theory has nothing to do with religion and at the same time use religion to try to support evolution theory. The only basis for believing the gospel is a belief in the inerrancy of the bible, and if the bible is inerrant, then the bible’s creation story must be true. Also, the bible’s creation story is consistent with the idea of an all-powerful god, but the god of the gospel is a weak, limited god who must battle Satan for control of the world. Christianity cannot provide coherent support for evolution.

    b. j. edwards Says (April 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm) —
    — Larry still thinks this is a valid question:
    “If we are descended from apes, why are there still apes around? “–

    Going off-topic is a sign of desperation, and you are really desperate. And you didn’t even quote me correctly — I said “monkeys,” not “apes”: “If we are descended from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?” The question was sort of a joking introduction of the topic of stasis v. evolution.

  19. James F Says:

    Larry, how do you define “Darwinist?”

  20. b. j. edwards Says:

    Larry clarified for all to see…

    “And you didn’t even quote me correctly — I said “monkeys,” not “apes”: “If we are descended from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?”

    Gosh…

    I see a Monty Python skit here. Larry, why don’t you take that to the Ministry of Distinctions Without Differences and apply for a patent?

  21. Sarah Bellem Says:

    What welcome news! There is hope for Texas after all

    We will all be able to enjoy the quote from board chairman Don McLeroy for years to come “Someone has to stand up to the (science) experts”. What a laughingstock!

    It’s right up there with Sarah Palin claiming to gain foreign policy experience by being able to see Russia from her house (paraphrased of course).

    Is there something about large states producing small intellects? I’m not sure.

  22. Larry Fafarman Says:

    This bill does not require that the recently adopted state science standards be immediately rewritten and these standards are normally rewritten every ten years. So even if the bill passes, it will be ten years before it can affect the state science standards. And then it may be a few years until new textbooks are adopted by the state, and then it will take several more years for the local school districts to replace their old textbooks. So it would take 15-20 years or more for this bill to have a significant effect on textbooks. And local school districts can use state-unapproved textbooks if the districts pay the full cost.

    As I said, this bill would overturn the results of fair elections, particularly the last election in which two strongly challenged fundies managed to hold on to their board seats. The following board voting records on the new science standards show that there were some close votes where having two fewer fundies on the board would have made a difference —

    http://www.texscience.org/pdf/sboe-votes-2009jan22.pdf

    http://www.texscience.org/pdf/SBOE-Summary-2009March26-27.pdf

    b. j. edwards Says (April 17, 2009 at 7:19 pm) —
    –Larry clarified for all to see…

    “And you didn’t even quote me correctly — I said “monkeys,” not “apes”: “If we are descended from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?”–

    b.j., the main purpose of the question was to accompany a cartoon showing the National Center for Science Education represented by three monkeys who “hear no science,” “see no science,” and “speak no science.” (“science” of course replaces “evil”) See —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-stasis-and-evolution-compatible.html

    Your problem is that you have no sense of humor.

    –Larry, why don’t you take that to the Ministry of Distinctions Without Differences and apply for a patent? —

    It’s a distinction that Darwinists, not I, have made. Actually, humans are sometimes classified as apes — great apes, along with gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos. Darwinists are always playing “gotcha” with nitpicking, arbitrary, and pedantic distinctions.

  23. b. j. edwards Says:

    Larry, caught with his pants down, wrote…

    “b.j., the main purpose of the question was to accompany a cartoon showing the National Center for Science Education represented by three monkeys who “hear no science,” “see no science,” and “speak no science.” (”science” of course replaces “evil”) ”

    Which, as you well know, is a fallacious statement. So why repeat it, Larry?

    “Actually, humans are sometimes classified as apes — great apes, along with gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos.”

    Another of your strawman arguments. And false. We descended from a common ancestor that was ape-like but not like modern apes.

    Get real, Larry.

  24. Larry Fafarman Says:

    b. j. edwards Says (April 18, 2009 at 10:46 am) —
    –Larry, caught with his pants down, wrote…

    “b.j., the main purpose of the question was to accompany a cartoon showing the National Center for Science Education represented by three monkeys who “hear no science,” “see no science,” and “speak no science.” (”science” of course replaces “evil”) ”

    Which, as you well know, is a fallacious statement. So why repeat it, Larry? —

    And I can’t even repeat it as a joke, bozo? And the statement is supposed to be true — we are supposed to be descended from monkeys.

    –“Actually, humans are sometimes classified as apes — great apes, along with gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos.”

    Another of your strawman arguments. And false. —

    I saw it in Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ape ) —

    An ape is any member of the Hominoidea superfamily of primates. In less scientific language, it has various meanings, although it often (but not always) excludes humans. Due to its ambiguous nature, the term ‘ape’ is less suitable as a means of describing taxonomic relationships.

    Under the current classification system there are two families of hominoids:

    the family Hylobatidae consists of 4 genera and 14 species of gibbon, including the Lar Gibbon and the Siamang, collectively known as the lesser apes.

    the family Hominidae consisting of orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans, collectively known as the great apes.

    You Darwinists are always bragging about how wonderful it is that humans are part of the great unity of all living things, and now you are complaining about humans being given the same name — great ape — as the other species in the same taxonomic family.

    Anyway, b.j., why are you harping on this? Do you think that if you can show that I made a mistake, then no one is going to believe anything that I say?

  25. b. j. edwards Says:

    Larry wrote….

    “Anyway, b.j., why are you harping on this? Do you think that if you can show that I made a mistake, then no one is going to believe anything that I say?”

    I guess it never dawned on you that when you make claims that have been repeatedly debunked, they are not classified as ‘mistakes.” And when you repeatedly make such claims, no one is likely to believe anything you say.

    It’s the nature of the beast, no pun intended. See “denialism” for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism

  26. James F Says:

    Larry, what is a “Darwinist?”

  27. Dr. Donald Masters Says:

    let’s just be glad that Larry will never have anything to do woth the science curriculum. If He redid the standards a wheel barrow would be needed to carry his worthless junk to the Board for deliberation. What verbosity!! I have worked on this issue withTFN and certain board members for almost a year and never have I seen such abismal ignorance displayed by elected officials. The evolution deniers on this board reveal their single minded intent every time they comunicate on this important issue and from what I gather from your remarks, Larry, you fit in with the Neanerthals on the board quite well.

    The real issue is not religion vs science; that is simply no contest and certainly not worthy of debate energy. The crux of the matter is what constitutes science; what is eligible to be in the science curriculum? There are rules set down by the NAS and the AAAOS which those reponsible are governed by and the main one is that All questions of science have a natural solution not a supernatural one whose evidence cant be tested or altered if found to be in error or debated on equal terms since there are none. If a theory has passed the rigorous testing from an idea to a hypothesis and on to a theory and finally to a generaly acceepted theory you can believe all the objections that you and the rest of the deniers have picked at have been accounted for and found to be sound. Your Petty Party is nothing compared to the predator nature of the scientific community. And by the way, nothing in science is permanent; changes can and are made if new evidence warrents.

    If you or any other of the bretheren wants equal time, do the diligence; provide the evidence, and meet the criteria and your theory will be considered. Until that time the science curriculum is not like a receipe: a little dab of fact and a teaspoon of fiction( supernaturalism). Its a discipline; if it weren’t you would not understand gravity, thermdynamics, aerodynamics, biology, geology etc. We could fill a single space page in just listing the scientific areas that would still be in the hands of the clerics as they are in the islamofascists communities. If you mistrust science as you so stated, then you should go to your favorite cave and spend your time with your primitive ancestory; you should feel right at home with the seven fundamentalists on the TSOBE.

  28. b. j. edwards Says:

    Well stated, Dr. Masters.

  29. Larry Fafarman Says:

    SECTION 5 of SB 2275 says,
    (e) The schedule of reviews under this section shall follow the same review cycle as that provided for the Texas essential knowledge and skills.

    http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/html/SB02275I.htm

    However, there is no reference to where that review cycle is stated. As I said, it appears that the science standards follow a ten-year cycle — the last revision was about ten years ago. Kansas and Ohio flip-flopped on evolution education standards a number of times in the space of a few years, as described on my blog in the following two post-label groups of articles, for Kansas and Ohio respectively —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/Kansas%20controversy

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/Ohio%20controversy

    Previously I said (April 18, 2009 at 8:20 am), “So it would take 15-20 years or more for this bill to have a significant effect on textbooks.” I should modify that statement: the bill could affect textbooks much sooner if the textbook-adoption committees cheat by ignoring some provisions of the new science standards.

    SECTION 5 of SB 2275 also says,
    (b) Each member appointed to a team must have experience in the subject area under review and have at least a bachelor’s degree in that subject area, so that teams are always composed of educators who are experts in that subject area.

    That requirement is super-dumb. For example, a math team should not have only math people — there should also be scientists, engineers, skilled tradespeople, etc. who can give insights into the kinds of mathematical knowledge that are needed for different occupations and training programs.

  30. Curly Says:

    Keep plugging your blog and your idiocy. You keep proving you don’t want to have a conversation with anyone on this blog and you just keep repeating how outraged you are that experts in each field are influencing their curriculums. Oh the shock, the horror. Please lock away your children for homeschooling or pass vouchers for private schools. People shouldn’t brainwash my children with things I don’t want them to know. BLAH BLAH BLAH…

  31. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Dr. Donald Masters Says (April 18, 2009 at 10:44 pm) —
    –If a theory has passed the rigorous testing from an idea to a hypothesis and on to a theory and finally to a generaly acceepted theory you can believe all the objections that you and the rest of the deniers have picked at have been accounted for and found to be sound.–

    As I have pointed out many times, it doesn’t matter whether a criticism of a scientific theory is valid or not, because there are good reasons for teaching invalid criticisms of scientific theories.

    –We could fill a single space page in just listing the scientific areas that would still be in the hands of the clerics as they are in the islamofascists communities.–

    You have a very distorted idea about how science in general and evolution in particular are treated in Moslem-majority countries. My blog has an article on a McGill symposium on Islam and evolution —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/04/mcgill-symposium-on-islam-and-evolution.html

    I get the impression that discussion of evolution is actually freer in Moslem-majority countries than in the USA.

    Curly Says (April 19, 2009 at 7:12 pm) —
    –Keep plugging your blog and your idiocy.–

    Doofus, there is nothing wrong with linking to one’s own blog when appropriate. That is one of the things that blogs are for.

    –You keep proving you don’t want to have a conversation with anyone on this blog —

    Oh, really?

    –and you just keep repeating how outraged you are that experts in each field are influencing their curriculums. —

    Wrong — what outrages me are attempts to eliminate or reduce the influence of the general public, particularly on issues that do not require any expertise (e.g., the “strengths and weaknesses” language).

  32. b. j. edwards Says:

    Larry stuck his foot in his mouth – again – by writing…

    “Wrong — what outrages me are attempts to eliminate or reduce the influence of the general public, particularly on issues that do not require any expertise (e.g., the “strengths and weaknesses” language).”

    The common problem with ignorant people like Larry is that they have no concept of their own ignorance. It’s the arrogance of ignorance of people like Larry that is so appalling.

  33. Dr. Donald Masters Says:

    Re: ” Larry’s ignorance.”

    After noticing Larry’s verbosity one can conclude that his IQ may be within normal limits but he appears to be suffering from mental stagnation…Better known as brain full of crap. Typical to the creationists characterisics, they (and larry) believe so strongly in the biblical authors childlike portrayal of Gods role in virtually everything in history that they become obsessed with its defense regardless of the absence of acceptable evidence. Consequently they lose the value of objective skepticism and turn into to being paronoid about needing to attack any concept that demonstrates that they are misinformed. One of the clinical symptoms of such ignorance/ arrogance is the compulson to try to win with volume so no legitimate debate is possible.

    The treatment for this mental problem is to work through a reading list of factual material to become educated in the area in question before showing your ignorance by pounding needlessly or should I say mindlessly on the keyboard. Unfortunately the cure rate is quite low. Like with the fireants, we must adjust to their persitence which could serve to agitate science toward better communication about its accepted thories so that maybe even Larry could undeerstand that it is not prudent to teach “invalid concepts” as he suggests.

  34. DaveY Says:

    Debating Larry is pointless. He doesn’t get it. Save your energy.

    It is only his opinion that issues like this that do not require any expertise, because he doesn’t understand the science, thinks any old schmo can do the job. No mental flexibility to see that expertise IS obviously required. The only axes experts have to grind are scientific, to chop off the crap.

  35. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Dr. Donald Masters Says:
    –maybe even Larry could undeerstand that it is not prudent to teach “invalid concepts” as he suggests.–

    I have pointed out many times that teaching “invalid concepts” serves the following purposes: broadening students’ education, encouraging critical thinking, increasing student interest, helping students learn the material, correcting and preventing misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated invalid concepts are taught only by qualified science teachers.

    DaveY Says:
    — No mental flexibility to see that expertise IS obviously required. —

    Wrong — it is obvious from my discussions of the “strengths and weaknesses” language that no scientific expertise is required to evaluate this language. This is not rocket science.

  36. Ben Says:

    I have pointed out many times that Larry’s thoughts are controlled by Satan.

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