13 December 2007

Texas Education Agency and Chris Comer, Part 18

The Austin American-Statesman continues to do a fine job of investigating the forced resignation of Chris Comer. Now, they have an interview with key player Lizzette Reynolds. She was the one who first responded to Comer's forwarded email.
Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

I would have alerted the proper people that something was being sent on the state e-mail. I would have said, “Let’s discuss this,” instead of giving my opinion in the e-mail. … Should I have used the words “termination” or “reassignment”? I don’t know.
Interestingly, although she was the first to send a very strong opinion to Comer's supervisors, she said she did not know Comer was forced to resign.
Were you aware of the significance of evolution?

I didn’t recognize the importance of the subject in terms of it being tagged “evolution.” I know now that it has very real importance in modern science and research. I know that it is in our TEKS, and I’ve no reason to believe it won’t continue that way. What I didn’t think about was evolution in terms of a political struggle. That took me by surprise because the science is being utilized in all our schools.
I have to say that I'm not surprised that an administrator wouldn't really appreciate the science. Unfortunate, but not surprising.

All told, I think Ms. Reynolds comes across as someone who's honestly given thought about what's happened to Chris Comer. She sure does not give anywhere near the same vibe as statements from Robert Scott or Don McLeroy, who really give the impression that they have an agenda to push.

Meanwhile, William Lutz, writing in the East Texas Review takes an unabashedly conservative point of view and spells out why conservatives have to take political note of evolution.
Even discussing the pros and cons of evolution can cause political problems. Many Americans view it either as a government imposition of religion or political tampering with science or both.
Could it be because it, you know, actually is? That, in fact, the repeated defeats for creationism and such in multiple court challenges are because it truly does violate the first amendment of the American constitution by showing favouritism to one particular religious point of view?

It's unfortunate that this is seen purely as political positioning, instead of empirical fact.
Even people who make well-thought-out critiques of Darwin are accused of trying to cram their religious views down others’ throats.
What "well-thought-out critiques"? That is a sincere question, not rhetoric. Where are they? Because I keep looking, and I keep seeing the same arguments and no actual new data.

I say again: Make predictions. Do experiments. Analyze data. Do real science. There are lots of armchair critics capable of composing "well-thought-out critiques" that don't stand up to serious experimentation.

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