02 May 2010

Two updates on long-running stories

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard an update on Chris Comer’s ongoing battle with the Texas Education Agency. She was fired over forwarded email, sued TEA, lost in March 2009, and is now appealing.) The Washington Post has an update.

I don’t think this is going to go well for Comer, because the article reports that she admits she broke policy (emphasis added).

James Ho, Texas' solicitor general, said Comer doesn't dispute that her e-mail violated the agency's neutrality policy.

“This is a policy of employee neutrality, and neutrality is the touchstone of the establishment clause,” Ho said. “It’s certainly not a violation of it.”

The agency says Comer was fired for “repeated subordination.” Besides violating the neutrality policy, she allegedly attended meetings and presentations without agency approval and disclosed details of the school board's deliberations to non-board members.

“What makes this case unique is that there is a pattern of misconduct,” Ho said.

I’ve always thought that the strongest argument for her case would be to say that her actions did not violate neutrality. Reasonable people do not see a forwarded email with the three letter addition of “FYI” as “endorsement.” I don’t think she’s going to win.

Meanwhile, The New American interviews Don McLeroy on the Texas K-12 teaching standards. Most of it concerns the social studies and English standards, about which I have no comment, as I have no expertise. On the science standards, McLeroy’s happiness does not comfort me:

“Science was amazing. We hit a grand-slam there — pitched a no-hit shut out.” He said the new standards give students the opportunity to learn not only how things work (the effect) but also why they work (the cause). The guidelines allow students to question evolutionary claims on a scientific basis.

If you think that his recent electoral defeat means McLeroy will just go back to his dentistry practice, I hate to break it to you:

So what's next for this education crusader after his term expires in December 2010? “I've been on the board for 12 years and have learned so much. I have focused on education and have much to contribute,” he reflects. “I may write a book. I would like to go around the state to explain what the science standards say and how they can challenge evolutionary ideas.

Emphasis added. McLeroy may be providing examples of how not to argue about science for a long, long, time.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I realize by "challenge" he most likely means "challenge and find unsatisfactory" but I think the most important skill to be learned in school is to be skeptical and to challenge how something can possibly be so. So I'm with him in that kids should learn how to challenge evolution so they can see how well evolution is supported by the evidence throughout all biological science.