Just for the Texas State Board of Education: Biology texts

June 1, 2007

This is a little test of reading comprehension for the Texas State Board of Education.

So if you’re not one of those people, you can click to the next post.  Of course, if you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you are a board member, but a Texas parent can dream, can’t he?

Here’s the point:  When you review biology texts for adoption next time, someone will testify that the books you review have errors in them because they carry copies of Ernst Haeckel’s drawings of embryoes, and those drawings are “known to be fakes.”

But that’s not exactly accurate:  Not since 1923 has any book carried the Haeckel drawings, except to point out that they are fakes.

P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula has a post today that lays out the details, “Return of the Son of the Bride of Haeckel,” as he Fisks another Chicken-Little-sky-is-falling press release from the Discovery Institute.

So, in short:  When that first person testifies to you, saying the Haeckel drawings are in some book, ask that person if they’ve read Dr. Pat Frank’s account of searching for that book, and whether they can explain why they think the Texas State Board of Education would be so stupid as to buy that claim, since it hasn’t been accurate in 84 years, since 1923 (older than all of the members of the SBOE, at least).

Then politely thank the witness for their concern, go to the next witness, and don’t ever, ever, ever claim that you think the current textbook publishers need to “get their act together” or whatever language you want to use, to get rid of the Haeckel drawings.

The drawings are gone, long gone, and you know better.

Back to our regular programming:  Did you know that it’s not true that Millard Fillmore put the first bathtub in the White House?

How it’s done right

June 1, 2007

If I need a lift, I go here. It’s how school should be — probably all the way through.

I don’t know the details of how or why this class is set up the way it is, but day after day they do things that other people use as textbook examples of what a good classroom ought to be doing, sometimes. And they do it day, after day, after day.

Carnival of Education, are you paying attention?


I wager right now that these kids will be the top performers on the standardized tests for at least the next five years, in their classrooms and schools. The Living Classroom weblog is a valuable chronicle for how to provide quality education.

Somebody should step up with the money to track how these kids do, especially against their contemporaries. Alas, this is exactly the sort of information that will be lost, due to “lack of funding.” Fortunately, one of the women involved in the classroom made the chronicles, and shared them.

Side note: Looking at the photos, ask yourself, “Does our town offer these types of recreational facilities for use?” Washington has traditionally led the nation in setting aside land for public recreational use — this class has taken full advantage of being in a town that had the foresight to put up public art and public beaches, and other public parks and places. There is a lesson here for city planners, and for mayors and city councils who wonder how they might support their schools, run by other governmental entities.

Dandelion, class activitiy for The Living Classroom

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