Surely A Large Human
Date registered: Jun 2006
Vehicle: '08 C219
Location: Between Earth and Mars
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AUSTIN â€“ State Board of Education member Don McLeroy of Bryan was named chairman of the panel by Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, giving a boost to the social conservative bloc on the board.Looks like Texas is striving to reach Kansas' high educational standards.
Dr. McLeroy, a Republican, will preside over a 15-member board, which today will hold its first public meeting since February.
"I really appreciate the governor putting his confidence in me," Dr. McLeroy said. "We have some very important issues ahead of us in the next few years, and I look forward to working on those issues with the other members of the board."
A member of the panel for the last 8 Â½ years, the Bryan dentist will succeed outgoing chairwoman Geraldine Miller of Dallas, who had to relinquish the post because of term limits.
While board members are elected from regional districts, the chairman is appointed by the governor.
Dr. McLeroy is one of seven members â€“ all Republicans â€“ who are generally identified with social conservatives and who often vote together on key issues such as textbook selection. There are also five Democrats and three moderate Republicans on the panel.
Board members are approaching a series of important decisions over the next two years as they revise curriculum standards for English, reading and writing later this year, and for science next year. The discussions about science standards are expected to trigger new debate over the coverage of evolution in biology and other science courses.
"The most important area of responsibility for the board is setting the curriculum standards for our schools," Dr. McLeroy said. "If we can improve standards and get them up to where they need to be, we can really help teachers in the classroom."
Conservative groups applauded the selection, but not everyone was pleased with the new chairman.
Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller, whose group advocates for the strict separation of church and state, said Mr. Perry deserves an "F" for appointing "a clear ideologue who has repeatedly put his own personal and political agendas ahead of sound science, good health and solid textbooks for students."
She noted that in 2003, Dr. McLeroy was one of four board members who voted against proposed high school biology textbooks because he felt their coverage of evolution was "too dogmatic" and did not include possible flaws in Charles Darwin's theory of how life on Earth evolved from lower forms.
"Dr. McLeroy will now be in charge of the board's scheduled revision of the state's science curriculum standards, an area where he has already cast his lot with extremists who want to censor what our schoolchildren learn," said Ms. Miller, whose group frequently battles social conservatives over textbooks and other issues.
But Dr. McLeroy said his vote on the biology books had nothing to do with censorship or religion and was based on "good science."
"It is wrong to teach opinion as fact," he said.
Regarding his religious beliefs, he said, "I'm a very religious guy, and I've taught Sunday school for several years. It's important to me."
But, he added, as a member of the board he has focused his attention on education policy for Texas schools and what is in students' best interests.
Dr. McLeroy received a $20,000 contribution from San Antonio millionaire James Leininger, a leading advocate of private school vouchers, in his first race for the board in 1998. But he has not received any money from Dr. Leininger in his last two campaigns, in 2002 and 2006.
When I posted about Don McLeroy, a creationist who the Texas governor just appointed to head the State Board of Education, I knew the situation was serious. Following in the bleak tradition of this current White House of making sure you appoint the absolute worst 180-degree-wrong person for a job, McLeroy seems to be the perfect candidate: he thinks the Universe is 6000 years old, he thinks evolution is wrong, he wants to bring religion into the classroom, he honestly thinks abstinence-only sex education is a good idea. I read his website, too, where he makes all this — and much more — very clear.
On his own this guy would just make me sad. But as the head of the BoE, he is dangerous. He wants to brainwash kids. And his ideas would make someone’s from the Dark Ages appear quaint.
But this transcript of a talk he gave at a church in 2005… well, you have to read this for yourself to understand just what kind of willful ignorance we’re fighting.
Comparing (his version of) Christians to scientists, he says (my emphasis):
"G.K. Chesterton, 100 years ago, 1908 basically, uh, made an interesting observation that is really interesting: “The Christian is quite free to believe that there’s a considerable amount of settled order and an inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle.” And I think that really describes it exactly, when you want to see, these people can’t stand anything getting into their spotless machine. They can’t tolerate anything. We can tolerate a lot, but they can’t tolerate anything.
This is absolutely, 100% positively wrong. It’s precisely backwards! A scientist looks around, observes phenomena, and then tries to explain them. If these explanations fail, then they are modified or discarded. This means two things: bad ideas go away, and good ideas get better, get closer to explaining reality.
Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. They can tolerate nothing that disagrees with their preconception of how the Universe ought to behave. That isn’t a good way to learn about the Universe. It’s madness.
He’s right about one thing (even a shotgun eventually gets one piece in the right place): scientists look for natural explanations. But as I like to point out, there is no such thing as the supernatural! Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things. There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real. So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.
So of course scientists look for natural explanations for things. That’s the way the Universe works.
I could go on an on; his speech is so full of garbage that they should have called Mike Rowe. But I have to point out this gem he uttered when describing a public discussion over textbook adoption (again, emphasis added by me):
But I want to tell you all the arguments made by all the intelligent design group, all the creationist intelligent design people, I can guarantee the other side heard exactly nothing. They did not hear one single fact, they were not swayed by one argument.
Of that I am quite positive!
Seriously, though, this guy has to go. If you are a Texas resident, I strongly urge you to write Governor Rick Perry, and politely tell him why he needs to yank McLeroy from this position.
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