Saturday, March 21, 2009


I Think We're Back in Kansas, Toto

Texas State Rep. Leo Berman is the bright light who proposed an amendment to the Education Code to exempt:

... a private educational institution, including a separate degree-granting program, unit, or school operated by the institution, that: (1) does not accept state funding of any kind to support its educational programs; (2) does not accept state-administered federal funding to support its educational programs; (3) was formed as or is affiliated with or controlled by a nonprofit corporation or nonprofit unincorporated organization; and (4) offers bona fide degree programs that require students to complete substantive course work in order to receive a degree from the institution

... from the requirement of obtaining a certificate of authority to grant the degree by the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board. You might remember the Institute for Creation Research was denied permission by the board to offer an online master's degree in Science Education not long ago.

When the National Center for Science Education contacted Rep. Berman's office and asked if the bill would apply to the ICR's graduate school, it was told by a staffer that he thought it would. It seems that there was little reason for any doubt on the staffer's part, since Berman is now admitting that the bill was specifically crafted to benefit the ICR:

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) proposed House Bill 2800 when he learned that The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), a private institution that specializes in the education and research of biblical creationism, was not able to receive a certificate of authority from Texas' Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master of Science degrees. ...

HB 2800 does not specifically name ICR; it would allow any institution that meets its criteria to be exempt from the board's authority. But Berman says ICR was the inspiration for the bill because he feels creationism is as scientific as evolution and should be granted equal weight in the educational community.

Berman's rationale is ... um ... unique:

"If you don't take any federal funds, if you don't take any state funds, you can do a lot more than some business that does take state funding or federal funding," Berman says. "Why should you be regulated if you don't take any state or federal funding?"

Think of all the business that could benefit from his thinking. Your local gas station probably doesn't get Federal or state funding, so it they want to rig their pumps to deliver .9 gallons but charge you for a full one, who is the state to regulate that? Your doctor wants to use outdated medication to treat your illness, why should the state medical association care as long as he isn't feeding at the government tit? The supermarket down the block is selling rotten meat, who gives a fig as long as it isn't getting public funds?

The fact that the bill is intended to exempt creationist institutions from otherwise rigorous standards will make any lawsuit to invalidate it, should it become law, so much the easier. That's pretty much the definition of government favoring of religion. Naturally, Berman couldn't let it go at that:

I do believe in creationism. I do believe there are gaps in evolution.

He only forgot to end it with "I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I DO!"


Via Jeremy Mohn at stand up for REAL science

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