Monday, February 9, 2009

Changes to the list of States

No not to the extent of re-naming Pluto a 'dwarf planet', we aren't re-designating any states as being less that others. However a few seem to be doing it on their own. What I am interested in is the list of states dealing with the political-side of the evolution/Creationism debate. Yes, I did say 'political' because there is no scientific debate! If there were, that Creationism/Intelligent Design would be welcome in the science classroom! So I thought I would update you on some changes in the status of Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, Florida, and Texas for your reading pleasure.

First the sort-of good news. Mississippi allowed their bill to die off in committee. Which means at least for this session, the debate ends in the Great State of Mississippi. The reason I call it 'sort-of' good news is because the sponsor of the bill has already made plans to re-introduce it next year, either it or a modified version. I bet we see a straight up fake 'academic freedom' bill, like the one in Louisiana. Remember my take, those bill have little to do with any sort of freedom, let alone academic freedom!

This is exactly what happened in Florida. Their bill failed last year, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to try it again. Although it looks like they have abandoned the fake 'academic freedom' approach and going right for the jugular, Wise to introduce bill on intelligent design:

"State Sen. Stephen Wise, a Jacksonville Republican, said he plans to introduce a bill to require teachers who teach evolution to also discuss the idea of intelligent design."
While it is tempting to make a joke about his name and his actions not exactly being in line . . . I do think this one will be changed significantly before it reaches the other legislators. I mean after the sound defeat in Dover and no changes in the lack-of-science- standing of Intelligent Design, this one should undergo considerable evolution of it's own soon.

Another state that I enjoy visiting, New Mexico. Well they have joined the ranks of the other 'academic freedom' bills, only they didn't use that term. Not sure that's a good or bad thing. But read the report for yourself, "Antievolution legislation in New Mexico". What t does have if a frightening little 'disclaimer'. What do you think of this:
"'scientific information' may have religious or philosophical implications and still be scientific in nature."
While I agree with the premise, it is something that can all to easily be taken the opposite way and inferring scientific validity based on religious or philosophical implications. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it. Another section really scares me, it's on penalties:
" . . . they shall not penalize a student in any way because that student subscribes to a particular position on biological evolution or chemical evolution."
That's a quote form the bill itself. Now follow me on this. You are a biology teacher and you ask a test question on evolution. A student answers it "I don't believe in evolution, therefor this question has no correct answer." So what do you do? According to the bill " Public school teachers may hold students accountable for knowing and understanding material taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula . . ."; however in the very next line you cannot penalize them? Does the student get it marked right or wrong?

In my opinion this will muddy the waters more than just leaving the current academic standards in place. Interesting that the State Senator who helped put this bill together, Steve Komadina was not re-elected and the supporters had to find another one, Kent Cravens. To bad they succeeded. All of New Mexico should be arguing against this one. It makes it impossible to teach viable science and to hold students accountable! This is not a good thing for a State that two of the Air Force Research Laboratories and one from the Department of Energy located within it.

One last one, Alabama also joined in. I think theirs looks like a carbon coy of the one Louisiana passed, but I have to do a little more research. So the home of Huntsville, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama is heading in the wrong direction! What a shame!

I'm not sure Texas needs an update. Last month they removed the 'strengths and weaknesses' argument; however they don't formally vote until next month. Google news on 'Creationism in Texas' and you will see lots of articles trying to sway this vote in a particular direction. I hope the SBOE stands firm and keeps science for science!

Now I like all of these states. I have spent time in each one over the years. I can count the time spent in Mississippi and Alabama in years! New Mexico, particularly the Santa Fe and the mountains around Albuquerque are magnificent places to visit. Texas really is like a 'whole 'nother country'. I was also most recently in Florida for my nephew's wedding. I like these places, the people are great, the food is too good for my waistline, and there is always something interesting to do. However each one is also involved in trying to survive these tough economic times. I hope that they people realize that branding your state anti-science is not a good way to invite science and technology companies to expand their presence! How can they expect to find the quality of workers they need if the state school standards refuse to address science!

I know, you have been partially fooled by the Discovery Institute -- who has helped draft most of the anti-evolution legislation and has two members on the board that made its recommendations to the Texas SBOE. But don't be fooled! Listen to the teachers in your own colleges and universities who openly and proudly support Evolution and Biological Sciences. Listen to the rhetoric of the DI for what it is, mis-representation, lies, and marketing. There is no science to be found! Read up on the Dover trial and learn why a Conservative Christian Judge, appointed by the Bush Administration, ruled that Intelligent Design was not science, just Creationism in a new coat. Read how the Discovery Institute lied and misrepresented themselves to the Ohio State School Board just a few years ago. Do the research for yourself and you will find what I found, that there is no scientific validity to Intelligent Design, that it is Creationism, and that neither one will aid in any way your children learning the skills to lead this country, and your state, in these trying economic times!

No comments:

Post a Comment