Texas, the eyes of Darwin are upon you

September 20, 2013

Graphic from Colin Purrington, in commemoration of the kickoff of hearings at the Texas State Board of Education on science textbooks, September 18, 2013

Graphic from Colin Purrington, in commemoration of the kickoff of hearings at the Texas State Board of Education on science textbooks, September 18, 2013

Colin Purrington Tweeted, “Thanks, @ncse for helping keep Darwin in Texas science textbooks. #Whac-A-Mole #creationism #StandUp4Science pic.twitter.com/8dNYbqFELV.”


War on science, war on education: Evolution under fire at Texas education board

July 21, 2011

Ryan at the Texas Freedom Network laid out the stakes:

Just a reminder about what new chairwoman Barbara Cargill — and her five “conservative Christian” allies on the State Board of Education — have in mind for the meeting this week:

I am a little bit concerned in looking at some of these science online supplementary materials. I looked at one of the links and there was a picture of a — a graphic of a human fetus next to a gorilla fetus talking about how they only differ by one amino acid. Therefore, universal common decent. So that is of some concern. And I am not quite sure if we are going to have the votes to overturn that. We will work diligently to rectify and correct some of that. But remember we lost a conservative seat, so we’re down to six.

In this unguarded moment, Cargill drops the double-speak and is honest about her plan for the first meeting over which she will preside as chair  — pressure publishers to censor scientific information from their materials and to insert bogus information questioning evolution. And she knows exactly what her task is: to get the extra votes necessary to accomplish this.

Stay tuned to TFN Insider on Thursday and Friday as we give you a front-row seat at the contentious hearing and board vote.

Live blogging the meeting starting at about 10:00 a.m today at TFN Insider at at Steve Schafersman’s blog, from the Texas Citizens for Science.

More, resources:

Friends of science and evolution: Testify next week in the Texas textbook process?

July 14, 2011

I get important e-mail from the Texas Freedom Network; they’re asking for help next week to fight creationism and other forms of buncombe popular in Texas:

Science and the SBOE: One Week to Go

Next week, the Texas State Board of Education will take a critical vote on science in our public schools. We need people like you to make sure the vote is in favor of sound, well-established science.

Up for board consideration are science instructional materials submitted by a number of publishers and vendors who want their product used in Texas classrooms. Even before the board meets, far-right groups have been hard at work trying to ensure materials approved by the board attack and diminish evolutionary science and include the junk science of “intelligent design”/creationism.

The attacks include one from a little-know firm out of New Mexico, International Databases, which submitted instructional materials rife with creationist propaganda.

It gets worse. Far-right SBOE members last month appointed creationists with questionable scientific credentials to teams tasked with reviewing the materials and making recommendations to the board.

And new board chair Barbara Cargill upped the stakes when in a speech just last week she framed the debate over science as a “spiritual battle.”

The board will hold just ONE public hearing on the science materials. Your participation is crucial.

It is critical that you act now by clicking here to express your interest in testifying before the board on July 21.

Please note: The deadline to sign up to testify is 5 p.m. Monday.

We must insist that the SBOE keep junk science – including “intelligent design”/creationism – out of our children’s classrooms. The board must approve only instructional materials that are accurate, that are in line with sound and well-established science, and that will prepare Texas children to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century.

Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right. www.tfn.org | www.tfninsider.org | General: tfn@tfn.org
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Trying to carve out time here.  Can you help?

Hearings will be most interesting.  Support for the Texas State Board of Education actually comes, often, from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  TEA this week laid off just under 200 workers, to deal with the 36% budget chopping done to the agency by the Texas Lege.  Word comes this week that curriculum directors at TEA were let go, including the director of science curriculum.

It’s rather like the first 20 weeks of World War II in the Pacific, with the aggressors advancing on almost all fronts against science.  When is our Battle of Midway?

Information, resources: 

Texas Citizens for Science, new Facebook page

June 23, 2011

One more way to connect with Texas Citizens for Science, the defenders especially of good science in public school classrooms:

Texas Citizens for Science logo

Are you a member?

Hello, Friends of Texas Citizens for Science,

If you haven’t done so yet, please visit the new TCS Facebook Page at <http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Citizens-for-Science/220812611277400?sk=wall> and become a Friend. TCS is only four Friends short of reaching the number to use a shortened URL.

Also, please make a note of our new TCS email address.

The July State Board of Education meeting will be important for us. I will attend and live blog the important parts.

Thank you all very much.

Steven Schafersman, President
Texas Citizens for Science

Pressure on Texas Board of Education to fix damage to social studies standards

February 18, 2011

Probably not enough pressure to get the board to act, but the Dallas Morning News turned a cannon on the Texas State Board of Education this morning, asking that they fix the damage done to social studies last year.

The paper’s editorial board keyed off of the Fordham Institute’s grading of state standards — Texas failed, with at D.

Here’s the editorial in its entirety — there’s more at the Dallas Morning News website and I encourage you to go read it there:

Editorial: Report offers new reason to rewrite standards

Just in case you think it’s only us warning about Texas’ new social studies standards, check out the awful grade that the respected Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave those benchmarks in a report released Wednesday.

A big, fat “D” is what Texas got for the history, economics, geography and cultural standards the State Board of Education approved last year for Texas’ elementary and secondary school students.

Some of that awful mark was for the way the standards are organized. Fordham researchers likened their confusing structure to a jigsaw puzzle. But much of the national organization’s critique was about how politicized the State Board of Education has made those standards.

We were particularly struck by Fordham’s conclusion that the hard-right faction on the board, which dominated the writing of the standards, made the same mistake left-wing academics have made in approaching such subjects as history and economics. The Fordham study puts it this way:

“While such social studies doctrine is usually associated with the relativist and diversity-obsessed educational left, the hard right-dominated Texas Board of Education made no effort to replace traditional social studies dogma with substantive historical content. Instead, it seems to have grafted on its own conservative talking points.”

Oh, it gets worse. Back to the report: “The strange fusion of conventional left-wing education theory and right-wing politics undermines content from the start.”

For the record, Fordham is not a left-wing outpost of American thought. Its leader is Chester Finn, a former Reagan administration official and one of education’s most recognized voices. At the least, his organization’s critique is not a predictable one.

The institute echoes the complaint this newspaper has had since the 15-member Texas board rewrote the state’s social studies standards. Its hard-right faction at the time insisted on inserting its slant on those important subjects, such as suggesting Joe McCarthy wasn’t so bad, that international treaties are a problem and that the separation of church and state is misguided.

The warped view is why the revised board must go back and rewrite the standards this spring. And that should be possible.

Voters were so frustrated with the board’s work last year that they elected more moderate Republican members. Moderates now have enough of the upper hand to fix these standards before schools start planning for next year and before publishers start drafting new history and social studies textbooks.

Some on the new board may believe that rewriting the social studies standards will be too difficult. But surely Texas students deserve better than a “D” when it comes to what the state wants them to learn in some of the most critical subjects.


Texas fails among its peers

How big states fared on the Fordham Foundation report on social studies standards nationwide:

California: A-

New York: A-

Florida: C

Texas: D

National average: D

Institute for Creation Research loses bid to give creationism degrees in Texas

June 22, 2010

Remember the Institute for Creation Research?

Institute for Creation Research offices in Texas

Institute for Creation Research offices in Texas

This hoary old fundamentalist institution moved from California to Texas, hoping to take advantage of the generally fundie-friendly environment, and continue a practice of granting masters and doctorate degrees in science education to people who would get jobs in schools and teach creationism instead.  They had achieved that goal in California with a lawsuit the state regulators rather botched, and by setting up a special accreditation association that would give a pass to the teaching of non-science.

But when they got to Texas, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) had a couple of alert people who blew the whistle on the process of getting a permit to grant degrees.  Real scientists and science educators were brought in to evaluate ICR’s programs.  They said the programs were not scientific and do not deserve to be accredited.

THECB stuck to the rulesICR threatened a lawsuit.  THECB stood fast.

ICR sued.

And then God intervened. At God’s instructions ICR filed legal papers so bizarre that they would, by themselves, expose ICR as a wacko group.  ICR’s loss came on the merits of their case, which were nil — it was summary judgment against ICR.  Summary judgment means that, even with all the evidence decided in favor of the losing party, that party loses on the basis of the law.

The court took note of just how bizarre were the papers ICR filed.  Frosting on the cake of embarrassment.

Judge Sam Sparks, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, stopped short of admonishing ICR for the briefs, and instead sifted the briefs to find judiciable claims — an act that will probably prevent ICR from getting a friendly hearing in any appeal.  Sparks wrote:

Having addressed this primary issue, the Court will proceed to address each of ICRGS’s causes of action in turn, to the extent it is able to understand them. It appears that although the Court has twice required Plaintiff to re-plead and set forth a short and plain statement of the relief requested, Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.

Whom God destroys, He first makes mad.

Sparks ruled ICR has no free exercise right to grant non-science degrees, no free speech right, and no due process claim to grant them, either.  ICR lost on every count of their complaint.



Cartoon on ICR suit against Texas, Babble.com

From Babble.com (Do you know who is the cartoonist?)

Liveblogging the Texas State Board of Education

May 21, 2010

Or, should that be “Texas State Soviet of Education?”

Steve Schafersman (of Texas Citizens for Science fame)  is live blogging for the Texas Observer, here.

Texas Freedom Network blogs it here.

Did I forget to mention that earlier?


Texas education: Social studies on the gallows today

May 18, 2010

Social studies curricula climb the scaffold to the gallows set by the “conservative” majority of the Texas State Board of Education today.  If they get their way — and signs are they will — they will hobble social studies education for at least a half generation.

As The Dallas Morning News explains this morning, lame-duck board members fully intend to change Texas and American culture with their rewriting of history, de-emphasis of traditional history education, and insertion of what they consider pro-patriotic ideas in social studies.

AUSTIN – When social conservatives on the State Board of Education put the final touches on social studies curriculum standards this week, it will be a significant victory in their years-long push to imprint their beliefs upon what Texas students learn.

We in the part-time blogosphere can’t cover the meeting as it deserves — nor have we been able to mobilize pro-education forces to do what was needed to stop the board — yet.

McLeroy will make the most of his remaining time on the panel. He proposed several additions to the social studies standards for the board to consider this week. One would require students to “contrast” the legal doctrine of separation of church and state with the actual wording in the Bill of Rights that bars a state-established religion.

McLeroy has resurrected the old Cleon Skousen/David Barton/White Supremecist argument that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, disregarding what the document and its amendments actually say.  Jefferson warned that such discussions poison children’s education, coming prematurely as this one would be as McLeroy wants it.

Watch that space.  Tony Whitson at Curricublog will cover it well, and probably timely — read his stuff.  Steve Shafersman’s work will be informative.  The Texas Tribune offered great coverage in the past.  Stay tuned.  And the Texas Freedom Network carries the flag and works hard to recruit the troops and keep up morale.

People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have already chimed in.

It is discouraging.  Under current history standards, Texas kids should know the phrase “shot heard ’round the world,” but they do not get exposure to the poem from which the phrase comes, nor to the poet (Emerson), nor exposure to Paul Revere whose ride inspired Longfellow later to write a poem that children have read ever since — except in Texas.

But under the new standards, Texas children will learn who Phyllis Schlafly is.  Patriots are out; hypocrites and demagogues are in.

Education board shames Texas: Social studies follies, part A

March 31, 2010

John Sherffius, one of my favorite editorial cartoonists, laid out the problem in his cartoon of March 18:

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010 - Texas social studies standards

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010

You may purchase a copy of the cartoon — or the original — here.

SBOE isn’t exactly asking that the Bible be rewritten — or at least, not directly.  Suggesting we replace Thomas Jefferson as a founder with John Calvin in high school standards, is just as silly.

Tip of the old scrub brush to What Would Jack Do, “Lone Star Laughing Stock,” and Steven Schafersman.

Jerry Coyne in San Marcos: Why evolution is true, even if some Texans don’t think so

March 17, 2010

Steve Schafersman sends along a press release; Texas college biology departments continue to advance science and education despite foggings from the State Board of Education.  Odd thought:  You can be relatively certain that you can avoid Don McLeroy, David Bradley or Cynthia Dunbar, by being at the Alkek Library Teaching Theatre on the evening of March 23; learning will be occurring there at that time, and so it is a cinch that the leaders of the Austin Soviet will not be there:

Evolution expert to deliver lecture at Texas State

SAN MARCOS — Jerry A. Coyne, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, will present an evening talk and book signing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, at the Alkek Library Teaching Theatre on the campus of Texas State University-San Marcos.

Jerry Coyne and friend

Jerry Coyne and friend (image stolen from Larry Moran's Sandwalk; pretty sure he won't mind)

Coyne’s presentation is titled Why Evolution is True (and why many think that it’s not) and is based on his latest similarly-titled book.

Admission is free and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. A book signing with light refreshments will take place following the lecture.

Coyne is an evolutionary biologist whose work focuses on understanding the origin of species. He has written more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject.

In addition, he is a regular contributor to The New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and other periodicals. He runs the popular Why Evolution is True blog, and is an internationally known defender of evolution and critic of creationism and intelligent design.

The book Why Evolution is True has received widespread praise for providing a clear explanation of evolution, while succinctly summarizing the facts supporting this revolutionary theory.

Coyne’s lecture is sponsored by the Department of Biology and the Philosophy Dialogue Series at Texas State. Contact Noland Martin (512) 245-3317 for more information. For more information about Coyne and his book, please visit his blog: http://www.jerrycoyne.uchicago.edu. [and Why Evolution is True]

This lecture is part of a larger series on philosophy and science, featuring a few lectures that appear designed solely to irritate P. Z. Myers:

Philosophy dialogue to take up evolution, identity


Texas State philosopher Jeffrey Gordon will be among the speakers at the university’s Philosophy Dialogue Series in the next two weeks. Texas State photograph.


The Philosophy Dialogue Series at Texas State will present evolution and identity as its discussion topic for the next two weeks in Room 132 of the Psychology Building on campus.

Following is the schedule of events, giving the discussion titles, followed by the speakers.

March 16: 12:30 p.m. – Evolution and the Culture Wars, Victor Holk and Paul Valle (Dialogue students). 3:30 p.m. – Arabic Culture 101: What You Need to Know, Amjad Mohammad (Arabic Language Coordinator).

March 17: 2 p.m. – Phenomenology of Humor, Jeffrey Gordon (Philosophy)

March 18: 12:30 p.m. – Stayin’ Alive: Does the Self Survive? Blaze Bulla and Sky Rudd (Dialogue students).

March 19: 10 a.m. – Sustainability group, topic be announced, Laura Stroup (Geography). 12:30 p.m. – Talk of the Times, open forum.

March 23: 12:30 p.m. – Evolution: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion, Harvey Ginsberg (Psychology), Peter Hutcheson (Philosophy), Kerrie Lewis (Anthropology), Rebecca Raphael (Philosophy & Religious Studies). Special guest panelist, Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago (Evolutionary Biology). Evening lecture – Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago, time and place to be announced.

March 25: 12:30 p.m. – Constructing a Masculine Christian Identity: Sex, Gender, and the Female, and Martyrs of Early Christianity, L. Stephanie Cobb, Hofstra University (Religion and Women’s Studies).

March 26: 10 a.m. – Sustainability Group: Civic Ecology, and The Human Rights of Sustainability, Vince Lopes (Biology), Catherine Hawkins (Social Work). 12:30 p.m. – Talk of the Times, open forum.

Sponsors of the Philosophy Dialogue Series include: the American Democracy Project, the College of Liberal Arts, Common Experience, the Gina Weatherhead Dialogue Fund, the New York Times, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Phi Sigma Tau, University Seminar, the University Honors Program, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Student Affairs.

For more information about this topic, contact Beverly Pairett in the Department of Philosophy at (512) 245-2285, or email philosophy@txstate.edu. A complete schedule of discussion topics and presentations can be found at http://www.txstate.edu/philosophy/dialogue-series/Dialogue-Schedule.html.

Probably can’t make it to San Marcos from Dallas on a school night.  San Marcos biology and social studies students, and teachers, should plan to be there.

Texas Education Board candidate campaigns against science

February 9, 2010

Do you need to know that Texas Citizens for Better Science is a right-wing, anti-science group, in order to see through this campaign stuff from Randy Rives?

Does this photo, with caption, qualify as witch hunt material?

Randy Rives campaign materials, Texas SBOE

Caption from Randy Rives's campaign: "Left to right: Area ACLU secretary Steve Schafersman (in back, barely visible in this picture); arch-Darwinist Eugenie Scott of Berkeley, California; TFN's Kathy Miller (white coat); SBOE member Tincy Miller (in back, facing others); SBOE member Bob Craig of Lubbock. (Taken while the five were huddled in a strategy session to promote evolution being taught without weaknesses language. Do you have this sort of influence with your SBOE members?)"

Steve Schafersman, by the way, is president of Texas Citizens for Science, the pro-science group active in Texas education issues.  You know Eugenie Scott.

Rives is running against pro-science incumbent Bob Craig. You who love education, Texas and the U.S., you know which way to vote.

Texas social studies standards: Beware the ides of January

January 15, 2010

News reports in Texas this morning said that several of the right-wing, gut-education-standards changes proposed to social studies standards had failed in voting on Thursday, January 14.  But, much more was to be done, and the SBOE adjourned early last night to continue voting today.

In a pattern familiar to education advocates in Texas, board member Don McLeroy (R-Pluto) today proposed a long series of amendments, apparently off-the-cuff, but probably written up in earlier strategy sessions.  These last-minute amendments tend to pass having missed any serious scrutiny.

Will he be able to ruin Texas education for the next decade?  I cannot follow the live webcasts; Steve Schafersman is working to stop the amendments, rather than merely blog about them.  We probably won’t know the extent of the damage for weeks.  McLeroy cherishes his role as a Port-au-Prince-style earthquake to Texas education. (Pure coincidence, I’m sure — Ed Brayton summarizes McLeroy’s politics today.)

Watch that space, and other news sources.  I may provide updates here, as I can get information.

Texas Navy supports honest history in Texas schools

January 15, 2010

John Mashey was too shy to raise the question in a thread, but he e-mailed me asking about the witness list for the hearing before the Texas State Board of Education on social studies standards:  “Texas Navy?” he asked.

Two witnesses listed their affiliation as “Texas Navy.” Edwin Greiner and Dick Brown, both admirals in the Texas Navy, were scheduled to testify early on Wednesday afternoon.

Now, a Nebraska or Utah Navy might not make a lot of sense, since both of those states are landlocked.  Texas needed a navy in the past, and at least twice, ships were commissioned and sailed for Texas, in 1835 and 1837.

In 1958, Texas Governor Price Daniel re-activated the Texas Navy with the purpose of “assuring the survival of Texas’ Naval history, boundaries, water resources, and for the civil defense of Texas.”  In 1973, the Texas Legislature authorized the charter of the Texas Navy Association, Inc., as the official body to oversee the operation of the Texas Navy.

Recruiting poster for Texas Navy

Click here to join the Texas Navy

You can join the Texas Navy.  Both the men listed on the witness list claim rank of Admiral, which is not a position one attains merely by joining — so we might conclude they have done something in the past to merit the promotion.

Consider joining.  Your membership will help preserve the history and tradition of the Texas Navy.  And — who knows? — you may want to testify to the Texas State Board of Education some day.  It looks like they’ll bump you to the first of the list, if you’re a member of the Texas Navy.

(Does anyone know what these Texas Navy officials told the SBOE?  Anyone have a copy of their testimony?  I’ll check with Steve Schafersman at Texas Citizens for Science to see if he knows . . .)

Social studies train wreck at Texas State Board of Education: Live! A Nation at Risk

January 13, 2010

Steve Schafersman will live blog the hearings on social studies standards before the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) today, at Evo-Sphere.  Schafersman is president of Texas Citizens for Science, and a long-time activist for better education in Texas on all topics.

Rapid updates or live-blogging should be available at the blog of the Texas Freedom Network, TFN Insider.

It’s Item #6 on the SBOE agenda, with a title that tips off the trouble:

Item #6 — Public Hearing Regarding Proposed Revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 113, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, and Chapter 118, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits.

Schafersman e-mailed an introduction to the meeting:

Some say the Social Studies public testimony by the religious right, liberals, etc., then the SBOE debate, motions to amend, votes, etc. is a bigger circus than adopting the science standards. Judge for yourself. You can watch the entire circus, carnival, and sideshow on the webcast video at http://www.texasadm in.com/cgi- bin/tea.cgi

This is Texas democracy in action, when sullen and tight-lipped State Board members listen to public testifiers for 3 minutes each and profoundly ignore them since they already know what they are going to do. But I, at least, feel better after speaking so I don’t later feel responsible for the crappy amendments, changes, and policies that come out of this horrible Board because I did nothing. The proposed Social Studies standards written by the panels composed of teachers and professors are excellent (when have I heard this before), but the SBOE can’t wait to shamelessly impose their own Religious Right agenda on them.

You’ll recall that SBOE has at every possible turn disregarded the advice of famous and serious historians, respected free-market-advocating economists, geographers and educators on these standards.  Economists, for example, want Texas kids to learn about “capitalism,” since that’s what it’s called by economists and policy makers, and colleges.  SBOE thinks “capitalism” sounds too subversive, and wishes instead to require Texas kids to learn about “free enterprise” instead.

‘A rose by any other name’ you think, until you start thinking of how Texas kids do on standardized tests, college admission exams, and the punchline on the joke, about Texas kids being told not to study capitalism.  No siree, no capitalism in the fictional home of J. R. Ewing, never mind the real-life capitalists like T. Boone Pickens or H. Ross Perot (Jr. and Sr.).

In Dallas, the city prepares to name a street after Cesar Chavez, the great Hispanic union organizer and advocate for working Americans.  In Austin, SBOE works to strike all mentions of Chavez, because they dislike the politics of heroes of our ethnic minorities (soon to be a majority in Texas).  In Washington historians and policy-makers follow the legacy of Thurgood Marshall, the great civil rights attorney and first African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Austin, SBOE thinks Marshall should be left out of history books.  Many of us suspect he’s anathema to the white right-wing in Austin:  A smart, successful and noble man of color.

Mel and Norma Gabler died years ago, but their history lingers in the halls of education policy in Austin.  It’s Shakespearean.

This is a massive battle.  David Barton worked for 30 years to gut history standards nationally to teach a history of America that never was, and as the official religionist appointee of the right-wing SBOE members, he stands on the brink of accomplishing much of the revisionism he’s advocated.  See the Texas Tribune story on the issue, “Hijacking History.”

Generally we shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, Ronald Reagan said.  At the SBOE, we’ve put the terrorists in charge of history and economic curricula — if not the terrorist themselves, at least the terrorists’ camels’ noses.  Texas’s process has earned flashing red-light, claxon-sounding repeating of the words of Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Excellence in Education:  If a foreign nation did this to us, we’d consider it an act of war [excerpt below the fold].

Make no mistake about it.  SBOE’s goal is to roll back any of the reforms left from Reagan’s Commission’s work.  Our nation is more at risk from foreign competition than ever before.  SBOE plans to give away a bit more of our future to China, this week.

Our saving grace is the general incompetence of SBOE members to make significant reform in Texas’s wounded schools, reeling from unworkable and damaging requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act and a testing program that severely limits what can be taught in any social studies course other than those bastions of learning left in International Baccalaureate programs and Advanced Placement courses (estimates are that between 5% and 10% of Texas high school students can take one of those good courses).  Whatever silliness, craziness or lies SBOE orders to  be taught, it can’t be taught and tested well.  Inertia preventing change works to save America in this case.

In business, most CEOs at least appreciate the value of having good front-line employees who are the ones who really deliver the service or product and produce the profit of the enterprise (even if they don’t treat those employees so well as the employees deserve).  Education may be the last bastion of flogging the horse that should be pulling the cart instead.  In this case, having well-trained teachers in the classroom is the last hope for Texas, Texas parents and Texas students — and Texas’s economic future and future in liberty.  Teachers are the last defense of freedom in Texas.  Today SBOE will make another assault on the ramparts that protect the teachers in their work.

When will the French fleet arrive to lend aid?  Will it arrive at all?  And if it arrives, will Texas kids know better than to shoot at the ships?

Carol Haynes, who claims to have a doctorate in some discipline, told the board how to rewrite the standards to completely change the history of the civil rights movement in their last hearing on the topic.  According to Haynes, apparently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was opposed to civil rights and Barry Goldwater was in favor — the Board didn’t offer to correct her revisionism, but instead asked her to go beyond her three minutes in fawning acceptance. This appears to be SBOE’s approval of various Other Universe hypotheses offered by Star Trek, allowing any damned thing at all to be taught as history (except the right stuff).  Haynes is scheduled to testify again (#128), probably very late at night, but perhaps in time for the 10:00 p.m. Texas television news broadcasts.  Oy.

Excerpt from the Report of the Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk, below the fold.


Cover of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, the 1983 report that started the education reform mess. AFT graphic.

Stand up for your nation, it’s children and future; sound the alarm:

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Schafersman’s testimony on social studies standards, to Texas SBOE

January 13, 2010

Dr. Steve Schafersman will testify on proposed new standards for social studies in Texas public schools, at a hearing before the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) scheduled for today, January 13, 2009.

Schafersman is president of Texas Citizens for Science and its driving force.  He’ll also live blog much of the hearing at his blog, Evo-Sphere.  You should probably watch TFN Insider, the blog of the Texas Freedom Network, too.

Schafersman’s testimony was released in advance, and reprinted below.

Public Testimony of
Steven D. Schafersman

Texas State Board of Education Public Hearing
, Texas; Wednesday, 2009 January 13

I am grateful for the opportunity to address you about Social Studies standards for which I am testifying as a private citizen. Tomorrow you will begin your work to adopt the new Social Studies TEKS. I closely read and evaluated the proposed Grade 8 Social Studies, High School U. S. History, U. S. Government, World History, and World Geography standards and found them to be quite satisfactory. The standards were extremely comprehensive, balanced, fair-minded, and honest. The members of the panels who wrote them did an outstanding job and I was very impressed by their knowledge and professionalism. I urge that you adopt these Social Studies standards without change.

My experience with this Board leads me to suspect that some of you don’t want to adopt these excellent standards–written by social studies curriculum experts and teachers–without change. After all, these standards were written by experts and some of you feel obliged to stand up to the experts. Some of you may want to change some of the standards to correspond to your own political and religious beliefs, such as the mistaken notions that the United States is a Christian nation, that we do not have a secular government, or that separation of church and state is a myth. Some of you may want to add more unnecessary information about Christian documents or Christian history in America. If some of you do wish to make such changes, I request that you restrain yourselves. Please resist the temptation to engage in the same behavior some of you exhibited last year when you perverted the Science standards and embarrassed the citizens of Texas by engaging in pseudoscientific anti-intellectual behavior. While the Texas State Board of Education has a long and proud history of anti-intellectualism, the economic conditions today demand that we stop that practice and return to professionalism and respect for academic achievement so that our children have a future in which they will use their minds to make a living in intellectual pursuits and not their limbs in a service economy.

During the adoption of the science standards, some Board members amended the Biology and Earth and Space Science standards by engaging in fast talking, omitting pertinent information about what was being changed, offering bogus “compromises” that were not really fair compromises, and referring to “experts” who were in fact pseudoscientists and not real experts at all. I hope to not witness the same behavior tomorrow but I am pessimistic. Two pseudo-historians, David Barton and Peter Marshall, were appointed as “experts” and there is plenty of evidence available that demonstrates that these two gentlemen are preachers and polemicists for their radical agendas, not legitimate history experts.

I urge the rational and conservative Board members–whom I hope still make up a majority of this Board–to resist proposed radical amendments that attempt to insert bogus histories of American exceptionalism, America’s presumed Christian heritage as the source of our liberties and Constitutional principles, and other historical myths perpetrated by the American Religious Right. I urge you to vote No to such radical amendments, not Abstain or your radical opponents will gain the same advantage that they enjoyed during the amendment process for the Science standards, where they were delighted when some of you abstained or did not vote since that made it easier for them to obtain majorities which allowed them to win several amendments that made changes detrimental to science education. Unlike last year, when you were prevented from consulting your legitimate Science experts during debate, please consult your genuine Social Studies experts, Texas Professors Kracht, Hodges, and de la Teja. Please try to avoid the same mistakes with the Social Studies adoption process that occurred with the Science standards adoption, so no one will be able to accuse you of being anti-intellectual.

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