Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creationist School Board Chairman Confirmation Today

Don McLeroy, Dentist, Creationist and Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education was renominated to that position by Governor Rick Perry on February 6, 2009, mainly because he had never been confirmed by the Senate as required under the law.

The original nomination took place after the 80th session of the legislature ended, so McLeroy, who has been the dominant force on the Board in getting God put back into science textbooks, has never actually been approved by the People’s representatives.

Giving me pause.

And making me question the timing of today’s Senate Committee on Nominations hearing.

Because in the time between Perry’s renomination and today’s hearing, the state board held hearings of its own on adoption of Texas’ new standards in science education. And came within a hair’s breadth of adopting language in the Biology standards that addressed “weaknesses” in the “Theory of Evolution.”

Weaknesses that exist in the minds of creationists, and not in the minds of those in the scientific community.

They spent days and days with this. Heard speaker after speaker denounce the inclusion of this notion. All driven by McLeroy.

Why, pray, did taxpayers pay for all the time that was spent on this one miniscule issue, when there is more to science than one theory (actually a biological principle) within one subdiscipline of science?

My guess is that this meeting was scheduled so all of that drama could play unhampered.

My guess is that this hearing will result in a rubberstamp approval of Perry’s nomination. And as I write this, I am watching the livestream video of the hearing. For the most part, the committee members are giving him a pass.

Going forward, my guess is that the Republican-stacked Senate will go likewise. And not necessarily because these senators approve of what McLeroy is doing and has done in the past.

Think of it. If the senate turns McLeroy out of the Chairman’s spot because of his creationist viewpoints we will have a martyr on our hands.

And all Perry has to do is lift another rock and pluck up another of this kind.

Definitely lose-lose all around. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if McLeroy was shown the door. I just don’t think much will change if he is.


John Kingman said...

Things aren't as bleak as you might think. Check out

Hal said...

One can only hope.

I saw the exchanges between McLeroy, Shapleigh and Watson on the livestream of the hearing, and appreciated what they said. Also the testimony of some of those who showed up. It was pretty brutal.

Still, I am pessimistic to a fault and have no faith in the legislature to do the right thing (because they usually do the "right" thing).

And then there is that other thing. Creationists in Texas are a dime a dozen, so if you get rid of one, 12 will pop up to replace him.

Chairman of the SBOE needs to be an elected position, not appointed.

John Kingman said...

Do you mean elected by the board? Currently the chair is appointed from the board of elected members. So far the radical creationists only make up 47% of the board.

I am also pessimistic, in that I don't really see how the Texas version of senate confirmation has any teeth. It looks to me like Perry can just leave McLeroy in place as long as he wants, no matter what the senate does. I haven't seen anything that requires him appoint a replacement in a timely fashion, should they not confirm McLeroy.

It's also kind of strange that this hearing was about McLeroy's re-appointment and I haven't found any evidence that his first term that expired in Feb, 2009, was ever confirmed by the senate in the first place.

It was just last week that the Nomination Committee got around to hearing the TEA Commissioner's appointment from 2007, as well.

Probably all of this is just shaping up as political hay for the Gubernatoial race.

Hal said...

It's a 4 year appointed position. But because he was appointed in July, after the, session was over, the senate never got a chance to confirm him. So Perry had to re-appoint him.

I didn't think about the chairmanship being voted on by the Board. That makes some sense. Otherwise it would have to be a statewide vote. But come to think of it, That makes just as much sense as voting for Ag Commissioner. Either way.

But appointing the chairman of the school board is something we can't leave to petty governors.

John Kingman said...

No, it's a 2-year appointment. See here and here

I believe that one person can only hold the office for 4 years in a row, however.

Hal said...

I stand corrected. That was something else I was thinking of.