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Nov 29 2007

TEA’s science curriculum director forced to resign for promoting science

This is beyond appalling. Remember the talk given here in Austin by Barbara Forrest back at the beginning of the month? It turns out that creationist sympathizers in the Texas Education Agency (rapidly becoming a grossly misnamed entity) have forced the resignation of their science curriculum director, Chris Comer, for forwarding an email promoting that talk. It’s as egregious an act of theocratic political retaliation as you’re likely to see. The lead in this Statesman article is boggling in its implications.

The state’s director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.

Think about this sentence for a minute. Let it sink in. Imagine, for a moment, if it had read: “The state’s director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching that the earth is flat.” Or what if it had read, “The state’s director of history curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching Holocaust denial.” What if we actually lived in that world?

Newsflash: we do live in that world. America is gleefully abandoning everything that the Enlightenment stood for and racing backwards into the Middle Ages with open arms. I don’t like to deal in slippery slope fallacies. But when one has to deal with Christianists and their political machinations, it hardly seems beyond the pale to think these are people who won’t rest until absolutely everything modern science teaches us about the world that in any way appears to threaten their precious fantasies about their invisible sky fairy will be suppressed, its proponents driven out of jobs and positions of public influence. (No, I’ll stop short of hysteria about Gulags, and leave that bit of paranoia to the fundamentalists and their little persecution complexes.)

No surprises about who ordered Comer fired. Lizzette Reynolds is a TEA member who used to work for — wait for it — the Bush administration.

“This is highly inappropriate,” Reynolds said in an e-mail to Comer’s supervisors. “I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities.

“This is something that the State Board, the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports.”

Yes, well, we all know how Bush and his boys are not exactly supporters of evidence-based facts, and indeed their whole policy of “if the facts don’t support our agenda, just make some up” is entirely in keeping with the modus operandi of ID creationists. Reynolds is a chip off their little Orwellian block, isn’t she?

I say we make a stink about this, and Comer’s firing should be a major talking point when science textbooks come up for review again in early 2008.

Here is the letter to the editor that I just sent to the Statesman:

I am appalled to read of the political retaliation in the Texas Education Agency against Chris Comer for, in the article’s words, “creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.”

Imagine if the article had stated Comer had been forced out for “creating the appearance of bias against teaching the Earth is flat.” Since when is the promotion of accurate science teaching a firing offense?

Religious extremists in the TEA don’t want students and citizens to know a simple fact that threatens their ideology: that “intelligent design” was laughably revealed to be the poorest pseudoscience in the 2005 Dover trial, and the so-called “controversy” over evolution exists only in the minds of the evolution opponents whose dishonesty and ignorance were laid bare in that trial.

Anti-science extremists in the religious right are playing politics with the education of Texas’ kids. If facts get in the way, shoot the messenger!

Go to statesman.com, and click on Opinion > Letters to write your own.

1 comment

  1. 1
    tracieh

    Holy crap. This is nuts.If all the other “infractions” she was guilty of didn’t result in firing in nine years of service–how bad could they have possibly been?The only thing that made me go “D’oh!” was when she admitted to feeling some hesitation before sending that e-mail. If only she’d have checked with a supervisor if there was any question in her head.But that’s nuts.

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