Friday, March 27, 2009

SBOE Religious Reactionaries Lose Another Vote

It’s nice when truth and goodness wins out over darkness and ignorance, isn’t it?

Today, coming off of the 7-7 tie that dealt a death blow to the “strengths and weaknesses” phraseology that would require biology teachers to ask students to evaluate evolutionary theory based on observations and evidence, its kindred, the “sufficiencies and insufficiencies” phraseology met with a similar fate.

So it would appear that Texas was ready to go full speed ahead toward adoption of state curriculum standards for the next 10 years, and adopt them they did, with a 13-2 vote.

Honestly, from all of the attention that it got, you would think that biology, and the unit on evolution, was the only science taught in Texas. They spent that much time on this. That despite the fact that standards needed to be adopted for a whole host of other science disciplines.

But then, no one is challenging any of Newton’s Laws. That despite the fact that Einstein poked huge holes in these “Laws of Nature” a century ago.

But since the Genesis story did not deal with quantum mechanics, or so I hope, the Texas State Board of Education won’t be going there any time in the near or distant future.

So now that the state school board has acted, and will now move on to social studies (do rightwing evangelicals believe that the Holocaust occurred? I forget) we will now watch the drama transplant itself in the Texas Legislature, that august body of experts in the area of population genetics and speciation.

Because now that the SBOE has failed to carry out the neoconservative evangelical agenda, it falls to State Rep. Wayne Christian.

A man who takes his surname far too seriously.

State Rep. Christian has introduced HB 4224, a bill that does the work of what the state school board just voted to omit. The bill amends Section 28.0037 of the Texas Education Code to read, in part, like this:

“(b) Instructional elements for scientific processes: the student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.”

It goes further, of course.

“…no student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because he or she subscribes to a particular position on scientific theories or hypotheses.”

Now this sounds all well and good to religious evangelicals, who don’t want Johnny to get a bad grade just because he mouthed off in class that what teacher just said about fish crawling out onto the land was all wrong.

But perhaps Rep. Christian didn’t quite think this completely through, do you think?

After all, there is no wording to the effect that the position that the student ascribes to must specifically deals with Darwinism, speciation or the descent of man, or whether the student ascribes to a position antithetical to specifically those ideas.

In fact, the sky is the limit on what scientific theory the student may ascribe to, and in no way may the teacher give the student a failing grade because of that.

So this means that a student may ascribe to the position of Aristotle, that an object that is placed in motion by violent force remains in motion by the impetus that the violent force invests in the object, and that the object comes to rest in the object’s natural place when all of the impetus in it is used up.

What the heck, what was good enough for 1800 years’ worth of scholars should be good enough for Texas’ science students, huh?

The heck with Newton and Galileo, what did those guys have that Aristotle didn’t?

Oh, Newton invented calculus?

Heck, forget that. Calculus is hard.

Hats off to State Rep. Wayne Christian, our Texas Science Scholar of the Century.

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