Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Viewpoint Discrimination?

After I posted my latest concerning ICR (ICR admits defeat . . . sort of) I re-read back through my earlier posts and realized I had jotted down a post about the subject of ICR's suit against the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board (THECB) and promptly forgot about it. What ICR sued for, in addition to religious discrimination is something called 'viewpoint discrimination' and that's the phrase that caught my eye. Is there such a thing as viewpoint discrimination?

I did learn there was, as evidenced in Rosenbuger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia(1995) considered whether or not a state university might, consistent with the First Amendment, withhold funding from student religious publications, that also is provided to secular student publications.

But after trying to follow the thinking that ruled against UVA, I tried to understand how THECB withholding their permission for MS degrees in science education and I failed to see the parallels. While I am not sure I completely agree with the Rosenbuger decision, it doesn't seem to apply in this case. The glaring difference I see is that the UVA was talking about financially supporting an independent publication by a non-secular student group. The ICR was claiming that the THECB saying

"1) that ICR failed to demonstrate that the proposed degree program meets
acceptable standards of science and science education; and
2) that the proposed degree is inconsistent with Coordinating Board rules which require the accurate labeling or designation of programs ... Since the proposed degree program inadequately covers key areas of science, it cannot be properly designated
either as 'science' or 'science education".

was a form of viewpoint discrimination? Let me get this straight, the ICR asked for permission to award science degrees and when the organization in Texas responsible for overseeing such things looks under the hood they find . . . not much . . .. How is this an issue with differing viewpoints? If their program had met acceptable standards of science and science education or if the degree request was in line with the labeling they wanted, they might have received a favorable consideration.

But as it stood they were asking for the State's concurrence to award degrees in an area they are unfit to award! Imagine hiring a graduate of this program to teach science in a school near you? If the State of Texas had approved it, they would have been complicit in what amounts to a crime. Because awarding a degree without requiring the student learn the required material should be criminal. It makes an ineligible candidate appear, on paper at least, to be qualified. Imagine the waste if a school system hires one of these graduates and discovers well into a school year that they are unqualified to perform the duties required of them. Look at the legal fees being incurred by Woods-Hole Oceanographic Institute because it hired an evolutionary biologist who, after being hired, states that he can only do a small percentage of the job because he doesn't believe in Evolution. What a waste! He should have never been a candidate for the position. In my opinion Woods Hole should sue him for mis-representing himself.

It's not 'viewpoint discrimination' when the basis for the decision is not based on their viewpoint, but their inability to actually perform the job. ICR is woefully inadequate in teaching science, therefor the THECB was entirely in the right by denying their application to award MS degrees in science education.


  1. What next? Requiring medical schools to have a Dept. of Demonology?

  2. Or Astronomy Departments having a division of Astrology.