Saturday, December 15, 2007


Texas Two-Step

No one can accuse the Texas state government of not having a plan for education in the state.

On top of the ouster of Chris Comer as director of science curriculum for the Texas Education Agency, an advisory group of educators and officials has now approved the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) to teach a masters program in science education. Final approval rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The ICR was founded in 1970 by the late Henry M. Morris, widely known as the father of "creation science." They are following closely in his footsteps:

Patricia Nason, chairwoman of the institute's science education department, said that, despite the institute's name, students learn evolution along with creationism.

"Our students are given both sides," said Dr. Nason, who has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University. "They need to know both sides, and they can draw their own conclusion."
While, according to the school's Web site, the ICR apparently offers typical education classes, it also offers a class called "Advanced studies in creationism." The ICR also states that the graduate school aims to prepare science teachers "to understand the universe within the integrating framework of Biblical creationism using proven scientific data." And, on top of that:

... the course Web page for "Curriculum design in science" gives this scenario: "The school board has asked you to serve on a committee that is examining grades 6-12 science goals. ... Both evolutionist and creationist teachers serve on the curriculum committee. How will you convince them to include creation science as well as evolution in the new scope and sequence?"
Well, one thing the student might suggest is to take out a gun and shoot all the board members in the foot and save them the trouble.

The advisory group that approved the plan Friday includes professors and administrators from six colleges – two public and four affiliated with religious institutions.

One member of the team that visited the school has a background in math and science education. But no one on the team or the panel that gave approval Friday has a background in pure science, records show.
Needless to say, the reality-based education community is less than pleased. Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network said:

It just seems odd to license an organization to offer a degree in science when they're not teaching science.
Odd, like everything else in Texas, seems to come oversized.

Update: Texas Citizens for Science has learned more on this subject and it seems even worse than before. As PZ reports, it appears that ICR is tired of trying to peddle its wares only to the fundamentalist Christians with more money than sense and this is an attempt to obtain an accreditation with the appearance, if not the substance, of credibility. Worse, it looks like there are those in the educational community in Texas who are in active cahoots with the ICR, not just being used as unwitting tools. There is a pdf file of the site visit report, which has this howler: "... the proposed master's degree in science education, while carrying an embedded component of creationist perspectives/views, is nevertheless a plausible program." Only in Texas!

What is going on in Texas? Is it possible for us to kick it out of the Union? Man, that state is embarrassing beyond belief.
It would be simple too. Know that wall all the rightists want to build along the border? ... Just make a little error on the plans and put it somewhere north of Amarillo ...
"They need to know both sides, and they can draw their own conclusion."--and they had better draw the right conclusion, or they're gonna go straight to Hell!
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