Well, Texas! How do you like your culture war!

March 30, 2009

Historical Item:  William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper in New York favored war with Spain in 1898 — the Spanish-American War.  When the war got underway, on the top of the newspaper’s first page, in the corners (the “ears”), Hearst printed, “America!  How do you like your war!”

Creationism lost on the votes that had been planned for weeks, on issues members of the State Board of Education were informed about.  But creationists on the board proposed a series of amendments to several different curricula, and some really bad science was written in to standards for Texas school kids to learn.  Climate change got an official “tsk-tsk, ain’t happenin'” from SBOE.  And while Wilson and Penzias won a Nobel Prize for stumbling on the evidence that confirmed it, Big Bang is now theory non grata in Texas science books.   Using Board Member Barbara Cargill’s claims, Texas teachers now should teach kids that the universe is a big thing who tells big lies about her age.

Phil Plait wrote at Bad Astronomy:  “Texas:  Yup.  Doomed.”

A surefire way to tell that the changes were bad:  The Discovery Institute’s lead chickens  crow victory over secularism, science and “smart people.”  Well, no, they aren’t quite that bold.   See here, here, here and hereDisco Tute even slammed the so-conservative-Ronald-Reagan-found-it-dull Dallas Morning News for covering the news nearly accurately.  Even more snark here. Discovery Institute’s multi-million-dollar budget to buy good public relations for anti-science appears to have dropped a bundle in Austin; while it might appear that DI had more people in Austin than there are members of the Texas SBOE . . . no, wait, maybe they did.

SBOE rejected the advice of America’s best and greatest scientists.  If it was good science backed by good scientists and urged by the nation’s best educators, SBOE rejected it.  If it was a crank science idea designed to frustrate teaching science, it passed.  As the Texas Freedom Network so aptly put it, while SBOE closed the door on “strengths and weaknesses” language that favors creationism, they then opened every window in the house.

Read ’em, and tell us in comments if you find any reason for hope, or any reason the state legislature shouldn’t abolish this board altogether.  (What others should we add to the list?)


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