Saturday, February 23, 2008


Protecting Texas

Okay, you folks in Texas can forget about those Clinton/Obama and McCain/Huckabee sideshows! The real contests in the state's primaries are Berlanga/Gonzalez and Hardy/Maddox! As detailed by the Dallas Morning News:

Just two seats on the 15-member State Board of Education are being contested in the March 4 primary, but the results of the races could shape the outcome of a brewing battle over how evolution is taught in Texas public schools. ...

The board sets school curricula, selects textbooks and manages the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.

"When you think about the fact that the State Board of Education in Texas determines what every child in Texas public schools will be taught in K through 12, the impact that those members have is extraordinary on the future of Texas," said Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors religious teachings in public schools. "These races are absolutely critical."
The incumbents, Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat, and Pat Hardy, a Republican, are generally in opposition to the far-right faction on the board, led by chairman Don McLeroy, himself a creationist. In any event, their opponents are good enough reason to vote for the incumbents.

Berlanga is opposed in the Democratic primary by retired school-adminstrator Lupe Gonzalez who has:

... said he believes intelligent design -- a recent theory that the universe is so complex that science alone cannot explain the origins of life -- should be included in textbooks as an alternative to evolution.

"The ... issue can be minimized to a large extent if we present alternatives to the theory of evolution, give both of them equal weight and that's it," he said.

"I just think that there has to be something far more than just a big-bang theory ... that it just happened haphazardly. I just have a hard time believing that that would be the case."
That's nice ... a candidate for the state board of education who thinks his personal incredulity and ignorance should be used as a standard for the education of the next generation. If you aren't shuddering already in Texas, there is Hardy's opponent:

Barney Maddox, a urologist from Cleburne ... once testified that the state's science curriculum is an attempt to "brainwash our children into believing in evolution."
Worse, whoever wins the Hardy/Maddox primary is automatically going to the board, as there is no opponent for the seat in the general election.

Campaign support and contributions would be a good idea. You can be sure the anti-science candidates will be getting both, as shown by the support of the oxymoronic "Texans for Better Science Education."

Update: Here is some more information on Mr. Maddox from the Star- Telegram:

[S]ome of Maddox's views have emerged through his public testimony and published writings. In 2003, for instance, the Cleburne urologist testified against evolution at the State Board of Education with his characterization of Charles Darwin's theories as "pre-Civil War fairy tales." He urged board members at the meeting to reject new biology textbooks.

Maddox also questioned evolution in a 2006 letter to the Cleburne Times-Review and has had anti-evolution writings posted on the Web site of the Institute for Creation Research, a Dallas organization that attempts to find scientific evidence for the writings in the Bible. In published voters guides, Maddox has reported strong opposition to replacing abstinence-only education with more comprehensive sex education, strong opposition to providing school counseling or teaching about homosexuality, and strong support for displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

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How to Support Science Education