If the venerable, old and wrong Institute for Creation Research hoped to sneak through their request to grant graduate science degrees in creationism, they are disappointed this morning. The Dallas Morning News exposed their plans on the front page: “Creation college seeks state’s OK; Dallas school plans master’s in science education, fueling debate over teaching evolution.”
To be more accurate, the headline should have said “fueling debate over teaching creationism,” since that’s where the controversy lies.
Cartoon by Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic, 2004; via Panda’s Thumb
It’s scary to think people can be granted a degree in lying to innocent children, and that it would be counted as a factor in favor of their teaching, instead of as a problem to be overcome like a bad background report.
But ICR was granting degrees in California. They hope to expand their sales in Texas, closer to the Bible Belt’s buckle.
A state advisory group gave its approval Friday; now the final say rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which will consider the request next month.
How will the state’s serious higher education institutions respond? What should Texas education officials do? It’s a difficult question, really. Generally states allow any institution that gets accreditation to grant degrees. ICR was denied accreditation in California, but set up a separate accrediting company for Bible colleges and religiously affiliated schools. When the U.S. Department of Education authorized that accrediting association as acceptable for Pell Grant and Stafford Grant purposes, California’s ability to stop the madness was limited. Texas allows degrees for colleges that teach chiropractic medicine, and there are probably several other degree granting programs that would raise eyebrows of rational people, were they better known.
“It just seems odd to license an organization to offer a degree in science when they’re not teaching science,” Mr. [Dan] Quinn [of the Texas Freedom Network] said.
“What we’re seeing here is another example of how Texas is becoming the central state in efforts by creationists to undermine science education, especially the teaching of evolution.”
A group of educators and officials from the state Coordinating Board visited the campus in November and met with faculty members. The group found that the institute offered a standard science education curriculum that would prepare them to take state licensure exams, said Glenda Barron, an associate commissioner of the board.
Dr. Barron said the program was held to the same standards that any other college would have to meet.
“The master’s in science education, we see those frequently,” she said. “What’s different – and what’s got everybody’s attention – is the name of the institution.”
No, it’s not the name of the institution that worries us — it’s their history of defending buncombe, hoaxes and falsehoods as science, detracting from the education of science in a major way.
Science education in the U.S. is under assault. ICR is asking Texas to surrender the nation’s future and accept the ICR’s white flag of ignorance as the state’s own. It is unclear to me whether the state may refuse to do that, though it would be the moral thing to do to refuse.