Florida considering high academic standards: Evolution

October 31, 2007

News reports and a syndicated radio program, “Evolution Minute,” talk about the efforts to upgrade science education in Florida. Florida worries that without high science standards in education, their kids will be left behind.

High standards? That’s right: Evolution’s in, intelligent design is not. High quality education, not high feely education.


Christian nation hoaxes: Jefferson and the Geneva Academy

October 31, 2007

Chris Rodda has a bee in her bonnet about wacky claims about early U.S. government and Christianity — same bee I get on occasion (hence the famous phrase, “busy bee”).

At Talk to Action, Chris dissects one of the more odd and arcane claims of people like the late D. James Kennedy, that Thomas Jefferson tried to import a group of Calvinist seminarians to make the University of Virginia a religious institution. Kennedy’s claim is voodoo history at its most voodoo.

There are two things wrong with Kennedy’s claim. The first is the time frame. Jefferson did consider a proposal to move the Geneva Academy to the United States, but this was in 1794 and 1795, thirty years before the University of Virginia opened. The second is that, although the Geneva Academy was originally founded by John Calvin in 1559 as theological seminary, by the late 1700s it had been transformed into an academy of science. The plan considered by Jefferson was not to import a religious school. It was to import a group of Europe’s top science professors.

This one is so obscure I have heard it only a couple of times. I’m not sure if that’s because it is so far outside the world of reality that even most victims of these hoaxes recognize it, or if it just hasn’t gotten traction yet.

Jefferson’s relationship with religious instruction in higher education really never varied. When he was a member of the governing board of the College of William and Mary, the board of visitors, he successfully campaigned to rid the college of preachers in teaching positions, and with the money saved, he got lawyers hired to instruct in other topics instead. In his design for the University of Virginia, he most carefully left out religious instruction from the curriculum, and from the space of the university. Since he shared this view of religion in education with James Madison, Madison followed through on keeping the University of Virginia as an institution of learning and not religious indoctrination.

So, how could someone with the research chops claimed by the late Rev. Kennedy get this stuff so exactly wrong? He relied on an old hoaxer, Mark A. Beliles. Why could a scholar like Kennedy could be sucked in by such a clear and blatant hoax? Bogus history seemed to attract him like seagulls to and overturned hot dog cart.

Read it, and gain enlightenment on the facts, if not on the motivations of Rev. Kennedy.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.


Concise case against Utah voucher proposal

October 31, 2007

This site has about the most nearly complete, concise case against the Utah school voucher proposal I have found. Is there any chance the voters in Utah still need to be swayed to reason on this issue? Send them to this site, after you have them view the real story about Oreos.


Essay contest: Being an American

October 31, 2007

I get e-mail, some of it interesting, some of it useful in the classroom.

The Bill of Rights Institute’s essay contest has a deadline just over a month away. Are your students entering?

Here’s the e-mail I got:

___________________________________

It is not too late for you and your students to win over $63,000 in awards by entering the Being an American essay contest.

Assign the essay question to your students today!
They will explore civic values, describe American ideals, and connect with the Constitution. The top winners will attend an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 4-5, 2008!

Contest ends December 3, 2007!
Visit the contest website for more information
.


Utah voucher referendum: Slapping the hand in the cookie jar

October 30, 2007

A Utah school teacher made his own video, in his home it appears, with a non-professional camera and crew — and it eviscerates the points Richard Eyre was trying to make in his slick, professionally-produced, commercial version.

The Truth about Cookies Utah Vouchers:

Tip of the old scrub brush to a reader and commenter named Brack.

Update, November  7, 2007:

Utah voters soundly rejected vouchers in the election November 6.  Here’s my version of the story.


“Cool Tools”: Making searches safe for students

October 29, 2007

A History Teacher, even while on hiatus, shows how you can protect your students and point them in the right direction in their research, all at the same time.

Thanks to Google, of course, and a tip of the old scrub brush to A History Teacher.

Let’s hope he stays safe from the fires.


Fighting malaria with reason

October 29, 2007

We can beat malaria without DDT; we can’t beat malaria without bednets.

Editorial from BMJ (née British Medical Journal?) points out that bednets really work, and they work better when distributed free of charge.  Nets cost about $5.00 each, but in nations where a good day’s pay is about $1.00, charging for them merely means they won’t be purchased and can’t be used.

Time for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Steve Milloy, to listen to reason, stop bashing Rachel Carson, and start fighting malaria.

Update, February 2009; the original link seems irrecoverable; see also this research, BMJ 2007;335:1023 ( 17 November), doi:10.1136/bmj.39356.574641.55 (published 16 October 2007


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