texas, still hell bent on undermining education
Seems that no amount of attention, including a million watt spotlight on the nonsense that emanates from the mouths of the Texas School Board’s creationist faction, is going to be enough to stop the state’s officials from dragging their education programs back into the 1800s from a scientific standpoint, and turn their humanities curricula into their personal opinions of history, complete with the kind of right wing propaganda we’d expect to hear from Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck rather than a qualified history teacher. And now, since California, the second largest textbook market in the nation and a balance to Texan’s far right lean, is broke and can’t afford its educational shopping spree, the likes of Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have more power than ever to harm our educational system with their misguided ideological attacks on science and fact-based pedagogy…
Think I’m a little tough on well meaning folks who are just following the advice of scientists and experts to ask questions and are just demanding rigor from the materials students across the state will be learning? Then you should take a look at a little story featuring our crazed dentist, Don McLeroy, that gives a little peek into a zealot’s head, where books are read not for education but ideological confirmation and become the target of a temper tantrum when they don’t soothe his itch to see his views praised as the absolute truth…
With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in [evolution]. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history.
“The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan. He needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”
Just note how there isn’t a single complex thought entertained in his narrow little worldview of black and white, right and wrong. He evaluates textbooks not on whether they have scientific merit and have been vetted by the appropriate experts in the field, but on how they agree with him. Even on something as basic as history, nearly all of the finer nuances of the last thirty years seem to have never materialized in his empty little head.
Sinister implications of the MAD doctrine, the internal power struggles at the Politburo, Soviet social dynamics, the use of communism as a bait and switch for 70 years of tyranny and Gorbachev’s massive failures with Glasnost, Perestroika and his naiveté in dealing with his colleagues, Reagan and Bush Sr., would never make it to a top notch history class if this buffoon has his way. The complex tales of the Cold War and how it shaped the world we know today would be reduced to “praise Reagan and tax cuts,” and left at that.
And when it comes to evolution, McLeroy reminds me of an excited kid who thinks he made some sort of a big discovery and wants to shout it from the rooftops so everyone praises how smart he is. Listening to him try to explain evolution must be like listening to your grandparents try to explain the inner workings of Vista or Linux with the kind of zeal that can only come with the blissful ignorance of beginners who have no idea of just how much they have left to learn. In fact, that’s one of the biggest things separating the experts from the beginners in almost any discipline.
Experts know they always have an immense amount of information to cover to keep up with the rest of their field and crank out high quality product to stay relevant while beginners are absolutely sure that the only difference between them and the experts is a paper with a seal of a university on it and they couldn’t be more wrong. When the reviews end and the conversation is stripped away of layman’s terms, they quickly find that they either need to check their ego at the door or give up on trying to play expert.
Although, there is a third choice for the non-expert trying to dip into the realm of scientists and engineers. Play politician and use populism and personal power to play arbiter. That’s the choice made by Texan creationists. Grossly ill-informed, with a hatred of people who devote their lives to learning and doing complicated things in the name of knowledge and technological advancement, they adhere to their rigid, anti-intellectual ideology to vote in a single, unshakable block against progress, against knowledge and against fact.
Because really, the only thing they have is their political power and they’re thrilled to use it, intoxicated with the notion that instead of listening and learning, they get to say no and hurl their contempt at real experts when their dubious agenda is questioned. And these are the people who are going to play a very significant role in what your children will be learning in school. How do you feel about America’s chances of leading the world in R&D over the next ten years or so? Because from where I sit, the odds aren’t looking all that great…