06 December 2007

Texas Education Agency and Chris Comer, Part 8

You're not fooling anyoneThe Austin American-Statesman, the paper that broke the story on Chris Comer's resignation from the Texas Education agency, has an important follow-up story:
"We were actually told in a meeting in September that if creationism is the party line, we have to abide by it," Comer said(.)
Holy shit.

If true, we (Texas, biologists, educators) are in much, much more trouble that I thought.

More importantly, the paper has finally got comment from an agency spokesperson, Debbie Ratcliffe:
She said charges of misconduct against Comer were prompted by a lack of professionalism(.)

"An employee shouldn't say something that's contrary to the curriculum, and they shouldn't look like they are siding with one camp over another," Ratcliffe said. "It's no secret that there are political differences on the State Board of Education. ... And employees have to be able to work with all the members in a fair way without the perception that they are siding with one group or another. That's why it's important for us to be neutral on issues and just to say what the policy is and not to create it ourselves."
This seems to me to be a 100% admission that the Texas Education Agency wanted Comer to resign for political reasons.

By the sounds of it, it would not be "neutral" to point out that there are mountains of peer-reviewed papers on evolution, and rather fewer on intelligent design. It would not be "neutral" to point out the outcome of the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. In other words, according to the Texas Education Agency, correct and factual information is not "neutral" when evolution is involved.
"Obviously, there was a concern about the forwarding of that e-mail ... that she was supporting that particular speaker and (how) that could be construed ... as taking a position that could be misinterpreted by some people," Ratcliffe said.
So Comer was getting pressured for the mere possibility of the appearance of bias.
Board Chairman Don McLeroy said that he does expect evolution to be a hot topic during the upcoming review(.)
Well, yeah, it sure as heck is going to be now, given the provocative actions the agency has taken, and the clear alignment with the point of view that evolution, alone among scientific disciplines, should be singled out for criticism.
McLeroy said he would support changes that further spell out what evolution's strengths and weaknesses are.
You're not fooling anyone, Mr. McLeroy. You'd support spelling out alleged weaknesses because it's an opportunity to attack evolution and thereby make religious views look better by making evolution look bad.

Meanwhile, there are more editorials in the Waco Tribune-Herald, which notes:
Texas parents, teachers and lawmakers should be on guard that the state avoids the mistakes that led to the 2005 Dover, Pa., lawsuit.
And in Kansas, on the idea that Comer should remain neutral on intelligent design, the Wichita Eagle asks:
Why should she be?

The Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard says:
Comer’s ouster already is a tragedy.

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