Robert Scott named to head Texas Education Agency

October 18, 2007

Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Acting Education Commissioner Robert Scott to head the Texas Education Agency yesterday. The Houston Chronicle carried the Associated Press story.

Some Texas educators are disappointed that no one like Mike Moses got the job. Moses is a long-time public school educator who was a very popular and knowledgeable. But disappointment was tempered by relief for what might have happened. Gov. Perry earlier in 2007 named a creationist and hard-back conservative to chair the State Board of Education. Scott is not thought to be that deep into right-wing political ideology.

Scott is a policy wonk, coming out of legislative staff to staff TEA. This is the second time he was acting commissioner. Oddly, he is so little known that it is unclear whether he is the Robert Scott who appears to have acted contrary to ethics and law in an earlier TEA contract problem, or whether it was another TEA employee also named Robert Scott. People who would usually know the difference in such situations, appear not to know in this one.

Were there a stock market in state educational attainment, Texas’s stock would have dropped 8% yesterday, with analysts saying it was better than the expected 12% decrease.

Can teachers alone save Texas’s education system? It’s a risky experiment.

(Text of TEA press release below the fold.)

Read the rest of this entry »


Sometimes Nobel winners do stupid things . . .

October 18, 2007

. . . and then other people who are expert in the field kick their butts.

No, I’m not talking about Al Gore. James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, recently insulted the entire continent of Africa, and a good bunch of North and South America, and western Europe. No, Dr. Watson, race is not a predictor of intelligence.

Greg Laden provides the boot action at his blog, Evolution. Bookmark it. As certain as your heritage is passed to your children by a double-helix structure in the structure of your cells, some fool will repeat Watson’s argument. Veterans of quote-mine wars warn that creationists right now are filing the statement away for use in some future debate, where they will claim falsely that “the science of genetics is evil because it promotes racism.”

So keep that Laden piece handy.

And if all of this is news to you as a social studies teacher? Read the piece thoroughly. Check out Laden’s links, ask questions if you’re unclear on anything he says. Laden takes questions. P. Z. Myers takes questions (and a tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula for point out Laden’s post). Comments are open here.

See, this is how science and free discussion work: People get awards for the good ideas they have, and they pay the price for stupid ideas. Discussion, among the experts, is based on real data, real research. Ideas win when they have the data to back them up, not on the word of some authority, regardless whether the authority is well schooled, of the right or far-right political party, or supernatural.

It’s a model for our students.

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Update:  Even more from Mr. Laden, as he notes in comments.  You have plenty of bookmarks available, right?


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