Saturday, August 27, 2011


School Daze

Ya gotta love how ineffective the Discoveryless Institute has been at inculcating the creationist masses with the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" message that Intelligent Design Creationism is, instead, a scientific theory.

The latest example is a certain Lynne Tagawa, writing in the Letters to the Editor section of the San Antonio Express-News.

The letter starts off by stating that Ms. Tagawa supports the candidacy of Rick Perry and goes downhill from there:

As a biology teacher myself [oh, my!], I would have a hard time finding employment in public schools because I would explain that if any student had a question about Darwinism, I would entertain a discussion on the merits of and issues with the theory.

I would open up the possibility of intelligent design if the discussion went in that direction. From a scientific standpoint, there is nothing wrong with contrasting a scientific theory predicated on atheism (Darwinism) with a scientific model predicated on theistic assumptions.
Now, of course, I somehow missed where Darwin and the generations of scientists that have come after him made atheism an assumption of evolutionary theory. But Ms. Tagawa is certainly right about ID being predicated on religious beliefs ... and rather narrow, sectarian ones at that. It's just that, despite the best efforts of the DI, they can't get it through the rubes heads that they're supposed to lie.

At least Ms. Tagawa has some niggling inkling about the Constitution:

I realize that some parents would prefer their children to be insulated from religious ideas. As a teacher, I respect that. For this reason, I support a continued emphasis on school choice and I'm thankful Perry understands the needs of Texas parents and teachers in this regard.
What she doesn't understand is that it is just as wrong to use my tax money to give religious instruction to her children as it is to force her religion on other people's children.

Excellent post, John. It appears that the letter to the editor in this morning's paper piqued a bit of interest. I found your blog while Googling Ms. Tagawa, who it seems teaches biology at a Baptist School in San Antonio.

Unfortunately, as a former public high school science teacher and department chairman myself, I would have to question Ms. Tagawa's statement that she would have a hard time finding employment in Texas' public schools. Over the years I found it quite disconcerting that there were a significant number of blatant creationists teaching "science" in the state's public schools and I suspect that it is even more prevalent in rural areas.

Mostly (but not always) these were athletic coaches who had minored in biology (the only real science concentration that lacks a substantial math requirement) that were hired over genuine biology majors to teach a partial load of biology courses while their real function was to serve as assistant football coaches.

It has always amazed me that this scandalous subsidization of athletics at the expense of academics has hardly ever drawn the attention of public education critics, as it is likely even more damaging to educational outcomes than is a few days of creationist discussion. If you're skeptical that this phenomenon is real and pervasive, just count the number of coaches on the sidelines at any high school or middle school football game sometime.

Tom Lott
a scientific model predicated on theistic assumptions

In contrast to "darwinism", that is.

But what is that alternative? What happened and when?

I would have to question Ms. Tagawa's statement that she would have a hard time finding employment in Texas' public schools.

There was the recent survey that found that about 13 percent of public high school biology teachers "explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light" and another 60 percent who duck the issue in one way or another. Ms. Tagawa would probably fit in quite well, especially in Texas.

I'm sure you're right about the subsidization of athletics at the expense of academics. I went to a Catholic high school in New York where there was, compared to the public schools, much more emphasis on acedemics and nowheres near the fanatical support for high schools sport that you'll find in Texas and across the South. But, nonetheless, we nerds had no doubt about our place in the pecking order.
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