07 January 2008

Texas Education Agency and Chris Comer, Part 24

Lauri LeboLauri Lebo (pictured at left), the local reporter who covered the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial and author of the upcoming book Devil in Dover, has an article in the Washington Spectator that discusses Chris Comer's situation in some detail and has a few new comments from some of the people involved, such as Don McLeroy.
Leaving the constitutional legal matter of such a maneuver aside, what aspects of evolution does McLeroy consider controversial? He cites the principle of common descent, in particular the idea that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor, as one debatable issue. Yet in the science community, there is no controversy over the idea that all living organisms are descended from a shared ancestor. The mapping of the genetic code in recent years has only confirmed anew scientific support for life's universal connection.

Still, McLeroy says he isn't interested in pushing creationism. "I resent the notion that I'm speaking in code," he said. But in Texas, just as in Dover and in other earlier battles in Kansas and Ohio, the scientific arguments of evolution's critics are intertwined with their religious views.
And the article ends with a description of what Comer has been facing since her forced resignation. I've added the emphasis, because I do think it needs to be emphasized that Chris Comer has been harmed.
As both sides wait to see how this will play out, Christine Comer is adjusting to caring for her disabled father and paying her bills on a pension that provides less than the salary she lost. "But I feel like this is my contribution," she said. "This is my time to draw my line in the sand for science."

She had watched what took place in Dover and remembers being outraged at the time. "But I guess I wasn't outraged enough," she said. Because she never did anything about it.

Now, teachers she knows in small towns across Texas have come to her to say they've been forced to teach creationism in science class for years. She asked them why they didn't do anything about it. "Come on," they told her. "What can I do? It's Texas."
I had the good fortune to talk to Eugenie Scott at the SICB meeting about the Comer and ICR stories, which I've been blogging so much about. I asked her why the ICR story has been so much quieter than the Comer story, and she said it was partly the writer's strike, and partly because Comer was a martyr, so to speak. I certainly have been avoiding that term, because it is emotional and easy to overuse. But during her presentation, Dr. Scott mentioned that Chris Comer is struggling financially right now. She indicated that anyone who was interested in finding out what they could do to help support Ms. Comer could email Eugenie Scott at the NCSE.

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