Religion

Texans Make Their Voices Heard

Quite a few people supporting sound science education turned out in Austin for the meeting of the Texas State Board of Education on Wednesday.

At issue is a provision being supported by the board requiring both the strengths and “weaknesses” of evolution to be taught in science classes. About 90 people were allowed to testify at the meeting, and only one person spoke in favor of the current provision that contains the “weaknesses” language. The good guys had them way outnumbered!

The board is expected to take a preliminary vote in January on new science curriculum standards that will dictate new science books for the state’s 4.5 million students.

For those not familiar with the Texas State Board of Education, it is made up of a “Creationist Cabal” — about half the members are staunch creationists, and have in the past engaged in activities that would subvert good science in Texas public schools. And as I’ve mentioned before, because there are so many students in Texas, and because book publishers don’t produce separate versions of books for everyone, the textbooks chosen in Texas find their way into the curricula of many other states in the US. So it’s imperative that these types of debates have an impact for sound science.

Kudos to all the Texans who showed up and made their voices heard! Some of them even had a little fun with it.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post, Sam. You made me all teary-eyed and nostalgic for my home town, Austin.

    In any case, it seems to me that the most direct way to handle this is to make sure that the wackos are not serving on the Board of Education (as is the case in many red states throughout the center of the country). Do you know how are they elected? At large or by location (e.g., with rural counties holding more sway)?

  2. @TheSkepticalMale:

    By district. The state is divided into 15 school board districts, and though not precise, they’ve attempted to have each member represent the same number of people. So for instance, big population areas like Houston have more than one district and representative on the board, where all of west Texas may just have one rep on the board.

    Terri Leo who is part of the “cabal” and represents the district I live in was just re-elected, as was a creationist named Bradley in the neighboring district. Unfortunately, none of the cabal was ousted this past election.

    Texas is still a red state.

  3. Do you know of any blogs or other sites in which some of the testimonies used at the meeting are posted? I’d love to see what some of the better-spoken opponents of the wording had to say about it. I can see easily from our own angle what the problems are with it, but just like other recent issues, it’s so carefully-crafted to sound reasonable that I’m having trouble coming up with clear, logical reasons to give as to why it’s a bad idea that would make sense either to those who believe in Creationism, or to the infamous undecideds. Not that anyone’s been asking me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to have my ducks in a row.

  4. These folks get elected (and keep getting re-elected) because local races are so poorly watched by most people and the voter turnout tends to be low.

    The important thing to remember is that, though these are local races, they still allow people to wield political power. This is one place the religious right has the skeptical community beat – they are very good at mobilizing candidates and voters at the local level.

    Personally, I wish some other religious sect would successfully run for these positions and give the religious right a taste of their own medicine. Maybe we can convince some Scientologists to run and propose that L. Ron Hubbard’s books be entered in the mandatory curriculum… :-D

  5. You know, if they wanted to show genuine weaknesses in evolution that’d be fine with me (not that I can think of anything in particular-it’s a damn strong theory). But saying ‘x is complicated, therefore it couldn’t have evolved’ is not a weakness.

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