Friday, November 30, 2007

The Political Correctness of Science Education in Texas

Hat-tip to Craig.

Last October Chris Comer, who has been the Texas Education Agency's director of science curriculum for more than nine years, received an e-mail announcing a presentation by Barbara Forrest, author of "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse." Forrest is an authority on "intelligent design" (she was a witness for the prosecution in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the now famous Pennsylvania case), and her book makes the case that creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. (The judge in Kitzmiller thought so too.)

Anyway, Chris Comer forwarded the announcement about Forrest's talk to a handful of friends inside and outside the Texas Education Agency, with the notation "FYI."

Naturally, someone who received Comer's e-mail promptly forwarded it to the local thought police, a former Bush administration apparatchik, Lizzette Reynolds, who had joined the Texas Education Agency as a senior adviser in January. Reynolds went ballistic, wrote Comer's supervisors about that horrifying "FYI": "This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities."

No, mustn't have anyone even knowing about a respected philosopher of science and nationally recognized authority on the "intelligent design" movement giving a local talk!

Bottomline, those scientifically inclined administrators at the Texas Education Agency placed Chris Comer on 30 days leave and then got rid of her entirely.

News of all this broke yesterday in the Austin American-Statesman.

Comer quite correctly says that her "forced resignation" was for political reasons. The American-Statesman also quoted Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education: "This just underscores the politicization of science education in Texas. In most states, the department of education takes a leadership role in fostering sound science education."

Far as we know, the (Republican) judge's ruling still stands in Kitzmiller v. Dover, that the introduction of intelligent design into public school science curricula is unconstitutional (though you can teach anything you please in your private academy, including that velociraptors joined Mr. and Mrs. Noah on the ark and that God personally selected George W. Bush for the presidency).

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