How can he possibly be serious? Not satisfied with the two absurdly unqualified ideologues already appointed to a so-called “expert” review panel for new public school social studies curriculum standards, Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy wants another that could be even worse. And he has been lobbying other board members hard to make that appointment.
TFN Insider has learned that McLeroy wants to appoint to the panel Allen Quist, a Minnesotan whose politics are so extreme that he suffered a humiliating landslide defeat in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor of his home state in 1994. If Quist is an “expert” in anything, it’s not in social studies. It’s in promoting the nation’s divisive “culture wars”
Quist originally made a name for himself as a radical anti-abortion crusader who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. In his 1980 book The Abortion Revolution, Quist even compares abortion to Hitler’s murder of millions of Jews.
Even before his run for governor, Quist demonstrated his obsession with sexual morality, especially regarding homosexuality and pornography. He even conducted a personal undercover “investigation” into an adult bookstore. Today he makes the rounds as a fringe anti-gay and anti-abortion speaker.
But that’s only the half of it.
Quist — who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in speech — has no academic credentials in social studies. Nevertheless, he serves as an adjunct professor at Bethany Lutheran College, a tiny and very conservative evangelical school in Minnesota at which he appears to teach one course a semester.
Styling himself as an education expert, Quist laid out his views on schooling in a 2005 book, America’s Schools: The Battleground for Freedom. The book is essentially a long, paranoid screed warning that America’s traditional values are under assault by enemies promoting, among other things, integrated math, pantheism and what he calls “transformational education.”
His wife, Julie, helps run EdWatch, a Web site that apparently seeks to expose liberalism, Marxism and other perceived threats to local control of schools and American education and values in general. EdWatch has published Allen Quist’s books, and the Web site includes a variety of his essays. Those essays offer a window into Quist’s peculiar views on education.
The Web site also includes a link to “curriculum modules” Quist has created for social studies teachers. Questions from the “modules” reveal how Quist promotes his rigid opposition to evolution and support for “intelligent design”/creationism even in social studies instruction. Some examples:
“Did dinosaurs and people live at the same time, and why do so many recently discovered ancient art works accurately picture dinosaurs?”
“How should we interpret the numerous references in ancient literature to dinosaurs (called “dragons” before 1850 AD), and what are the creatures described in Job chapters 40-41?
“What is the status of various examples of irreducible complexity, and have these examples been explained in Darwinian terms?”
“How has Darwinism influenced American law and politics?”
But Quist’s agenda extends far beyond pushing creationism in socials studies classrooms. For example, he compares the International Baccalaureate program to Marxism, calling it “un-American” and criticizing President Bush’s support for the highly respected academic program. And during his campaign for Minnesota governor, Quist let folks know about his views of the role of women in family and society:
In marriage, there is a political arrangement between the man and a wife, and in the political arrangement the man should be the head of the house. I think it’s instinctive. I know it’s true. You look in the animal world versus the human and it’s virtually universal in the animal world.
As we said, how can Chairman McLeroy possibly be serious here? Fortunately, he so far hasn’t found another board member to join him in appointing Quist to the “expert” panel. (It takes two board members to make an appointment.) Of course, Texas has many, many far more qualified academics in the social sciences, any one of whom could serve as a real expert in place of Quist. But McLeroy wants someone who shares his fringe views on politics, education and the “culture wars” — yet more evidence that the Texas Senate should reject his confirmation as state board chairman.