Saturday, February 23, 2008



As should be expected, "it ain't over 'til its over" in Florida.

The latest maneuver is that the anti-science forces are pushing for an "academic freedom" law to add a provision to the standards permitting teachers "to engage students in a critical analysis" of evolution. Translating from disingenuity-speak, the push is on to permit shameless ideologues like Robin Brown to proselytize children on government payroll time. Unfortunately, this raid on the public coffers has no little support among local politicians. Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is in the Florida Baptist Witness proclaiming:

Although he and other House leaders supported the theory compromise in a Feb. 19 letter to members of the Board of Education, Rubio said critics who believe explicit language protecting academic freedom is necessary "may be right."
According to the article, Rubio thinks the "crux" of the disagreement is:

... whether what a parent teaches their children at home should be mocked and derided and undone at the public school level. It goes to the fundamental core of who is ultimately, primarily responsible for the upbringing of children. Is it your public education system or is it your parents?

And for me, personally, I don't want a school system that teaches kids that what they're learning at home is wrong.

... [T]here are parents that passionately believe in this and they should be given the opportunity to teach that to their children without someone undoing it.

That's great. So we can't educate children beyond their parents' level of ignorance? If the some significant number of parents in a school district passionately believe that black slaves were better off before Emancipation, we can't tell the children what it was like to be a slave in the Old South?

Rubio then puts a fake beard on the Hitler zombie and sends it out to eat more brains:

Rubio, a Cuban-American, made a comparison to the strategy employed by the Communist Party in Cuba where schools encouraged children to turn in parents who criticized Fidel Castro.
... while gleefully chortling that he really didn't intend the zombie to have lunch:

Of course, I'm not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro ...
The only good thing in the article is that there are strong signs that Rubio may just be making soothing noises in the direction of his crazier constituents. Asked if the legislature would be open to academic freedom legislation, he was careful to hedge his commitment, saying that a vote count had not been taken in the House and that "we may have sufficient votes" to do something. In a classic move by lower-house politicos, he signaled that he was counting on the State Senate to save the House from any collective stupidity by quickly adding, "I can't speak for the Senate."

The good folks at Florida Citizens for Science are wondering how it might be possible to calm the fear represented by the reactions of Rubio and others.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel is demonstrating that fear is not universal in the state:

This academic-freedom law is just an attempt to sneak creationism through the schoolhouse's back door. Creationist theology that life on Earth is so complex it must have resulted through God's intelligent design belongs in a comparative religion course, not in a science class.

And to couch this in the noble principle of academic freedom is shameful. Would you defend a math teacher who fervently believes 2+2 = 5 and offers that as an alternative theory?

In teaching evolution, and Charles Darwin's thoughts on natural selection, the new science curriculum challenges students and encourages critical thinking.

Lawmakers should butt out.

The protracted debate over evolution was embarrassing enough. Florida's old science standards were a national joke that held the state's students back for years while children in other states excelled.
Well said!

If I can say anything positive about the Creationist/ID crowd, it's that they are persistent.
To paraphrase a certain late politician (an age test, here):

Persistence in the pursuit of ignorance is no virtue ...
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