09 January 2011

McLeroy starts taking parting shots

Don McLeroy is apparently worried about his legacy.

He writes in the Austin America-Statesman about what a great job the Texas State Board of Education has done and how unfairly the standards have been criticized. He defends the English and History standards, about which I have nothing to say, but here's his take on the science standards.

New science standards were adopted in March 2009. Despite all the hysteria and fears of evolutionary dogmatists, there has not been one challenge to any of the new standards. The controversy over science standards was actually the result of an attempted hijacking of science for ideological purposes by evolutionists. Their agenda was much more about worldviews than biology. The standards reflect real science and challenge students to study some of evolution’s most glaring weaknesses in explaining the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.

Board detractors still misrepresent the science standards. They should heed the warning of Richard Feynman, famed physicist, who in an important speech on scientific integrity stated "the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another." Mission accomplished. Integrity restored.

I’m guessing that by “challenge,” McLeroy means a lawsuit in the courts. Boasting that there has been no legal challenge doesn’t mean much, since there probably has to be a specific case in a school to press forward. I have little doubt some people would love to have a court case about the teaching of evolution go forward in Texas.

For McLeroy to argue that opposition to the science standards was driven by “worldview” is rich, considering that he is an avowed young Earth creationist fundamentalist Christian (as are several other board members). There can be no doubt that has driven the agenda set by the members of the board. Pot, this is the kettle: You’re black, too.

McLeroy is right that some people have misrepresented the standards. I’ve documented a few such cases in the past. It is important that those in favour of better science education speak and write about these things carefully. The standards are weaker than they could be, but nowhere to they include creationism, or intelligent design, or omit evolution.

Phil Plait has a discussion of this on Bad Astronomy.

Even though he will not be involved in the Texas State Board of Education much longer, I think we will be reading editorials from McLeroy for a long time to come. He is very quotable, and I actually admire the clarity of and frankness of his writing, even though I disagree with so much of what he says. And though he’s never said it, I think he enjoys the attention.

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