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Sep 02 2009

Texas SBOE: The beatings continue

Don McLeroy may no longer be in charge, but the State Board of Education in our poor beleaguered state is no less risible and contemptible. Just how many scathing editorials must these idiots receive before they start getting the message? That’s a rhetorical question, so don’t bother answering it, because it answers itself: They will never be humbled, because it is in the nature of fundamentalist ideologues to embrace the martyrdom of criticism, and the more abuse they take from the fallen secular world, the more proof that is to them that they’re doing right by their Lord. These are people who take Jesus’s line that “if the world hates you, remember it hated me first” to heart, and no mistake.

Anyway, the latest thrashing has been administered by the Corpus Christi Caller:

…The State Board of Education has rarely failed in its efforts to look ridiculous, as when it voted, some time back, not to require biology textbooks to include the theory of evolution. Or, more recently, when a panel of “experts” chosen by Republican members of the board urged the removal from the standards of [Cesar] Chávez, who greatly improved conditions for Hispanic farm workers, and [Thurgood] Marshall, who argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education that resulted in racial desegregation.

The state board is an embarrassment and will continue to be an embarrassment so long as narrow-minded ideologues and culture warriors dominate the agenda. You can argue that “education” is the least of their priorities.

That’ll leave a mark! Or it would, if these people had any sense of humility or decency whatsoever.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    Dylan/Darknezz

    Good to see you posting again, Martin. Without you, the blog's been kind of dead.Anyway, the Texas SBOE will never be stopped. The deluded masses won't stand for it if the current board is restructured.

  2. 2
    Thesauros

    That is just amazing. What a strange world Americans live in. I guess that's what comes with freedom?

  3. 3
    AtheistUnderMask

    Wait… they wanted to remove Thurgood Marshall. I mean, I can understand somewhat why they would want to remove Cesar Chavz, but why Thurgood Marshall?!I just can't even wrap my head around that. At all.

  4. 4
    Ing

    going by nothing but blind speculation I could see them wanting to minimize the success of activists and radicals as conditions are starting to mirror those of the "dirty hippy era".

  5. 5
    Jeremy

    Not to mention the inherent rebelliousness of activists, which seems to have an odd position in the mindset of many fundamentalists. While they regard rebellions such as the American Revolution as a good thing, they only do so through a particular lense that is removed from the historical reality. Point in fact they consistently rebel against reality (evidenced in the recent actions of the TSBOE) at almost every turn and consider it a great and noble thing.Conversely, many of their core beliefs hold that rebelliousness is what got humanity in the bad fix we supposedly find ourselves in today. Even the big baddie of their religion originated in rebellion. Like so much in their religious beliefs there is far less consistency or absolutism to be found as fundamentalists like to think. It ultimately depends on whether they think something benefits them or not, only to be rationalized post hoc. But what can really be expected when their beliefs are founded on such vaperous and ephemeral grounds?

  6. 6
    Ing

    @ JeremyThat's consistent with what we're seeing from the right now. A concentrated conscious effort to militarize and radicalize their supporters (to the point of promoting them to bring guns to town hall meeting, (might makes right anyone?), while painting the other side as radicals. They're trying to rewrite the history to show that all "liberal" activists have been dangerous to the country, while the right have been the one marching to the nation's pulse. I expect you will see them soon focusing on MLK jr's fundamentalist Christianity as the guiding principle behind the civil rights movement, instead of you know…his liberal tough-dove political philosophy. Likewise Malcolm X, morally abiguious figure that he is, will have his accomplishments downplayed and be painted only as the founder of the Black Panthers; a black RACIST….JUST LIKE OBAMA ZOMG!!!11!!!. In more modern senses, this is the process that has portrayed Acorn, rather than a fairly decent outreach program that got cheated by a few employees faking their work results, into a sinister liberal SS. It should be NO surprise that Chavz and Marshall will receive the same treatment. If there's enough ambiguity they'll be portrayed as evil extremists, if not they'll be "forgotten" (the same way Daffy Duck forgets when you bash him on the head with a mallet). I almost hate to say it, but I think you folks in Texas need to take a page form their book. The public opinion won't sway to reason from reasonable arguments. You're going to have to disenfranchise these dangerous conspirators (in the most literal non nut case definition of the term) through emotional appeal. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/for_all_the_wrong_reasons.phpKristin Maguire, chair of the South Carolina State Board of Education resigned not due to people realizing she's an enemy of science, decency, and reason; but because she was caught engaging in harmless sexual activity (specifically fantasy writing on a web site). Perhaps it is time to look for non-professional reasons to disenfranchise your state board with the general populace. A benefit of Christianity's fucking insanity is that they expect their representatives to uphold an insane and irrational 'moral' standard. None of them can. Expose that and their supporters will turn on them like a pack of hungry dogs. While it may seem hypocritical to exploit such morally acceptable "vices", it may be the only way to fight back against this stacked deck. stirring up a controversy and then quietly putting in someone "worse" in the shamed one in question's place has worked beautifully for the right in the past. I'm not sure it's entirely right, but I think the idea should be raised and debated. Such tactics worked great for Ken Star, Rove, etc. Is our side taking the high ground by eschewing such methods, or are we placing unnecessary 'fairness' on ourselves; self imposing handicaps? Look at Hoven and Haggard. There are any number of actual reasons to remove them from relevance…yet it was the ad hominin ones that actually worked. It was those that caused their support to waver (weaken in the case of Hoven and utterly implode for Haggard). Is it moral to use the populace's own irrational prejudices against them? Do the ends of educating the public so they won't be as easily manipulated, justify manipulating them? I think as long as there's no lying and you're just throwing out the facts, that the public's moral outrage will benefit reason is just an added bonus.

  7. 7
    tracieh

    In our letters to the editor this morning was a comment about a recent study done by a group at Texas A&M, which was reported in the August 23rd Austin American-Statesman. The writer notes, “The study concluded that the students who drop out from the class of 2012 could cost Texas up to a staggering $9.6 billion over the course of their lifetimes, and highlighted Communities In Schools of Texas as a particularly effective approach for addressing the dropout problem. While Texas spends $40 billion on education each year, it allocates only $16 million statewide to CIS, despite it’s proven success in helping students achieve and stay in school.”Obama is giving a speech Tuesday at 11 a.m. that will broadcast over the Internet on the topic of “the importance of education.” The target audience is school children.I realize that Obama has made Internet speeches something of a regular thing that past presidents have not really been able to take advantage of, due to lacking the technology. However, the idea of a president addressing school children in the U.S. is not unheard of. In fact, Bush was doing exactly that–visiting a classroom–when the 9-11 attack occurred.Whether I like or agree with the president, I think it’s part of the job to make the rounds, visit citizens, let children know he’s there and cares, and remind them he's accessible. In fact, some teachers have made writing to the Whitehouse assignments. It’s good for our head of state to make himself, as much as possible, available in public forms and to demonstrate a concern for the public welfare infrastructure–such as public schools and education. Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s a cherry photo-op to be seen with children at a school. I get it’s also good publicity. But as a citizen, I think it’s a fine thing for kids to have an opportunity to be addressed by their president. After all, voters or not, he represents them, too. And I haven’t ever accused Bush of any sinister motives for visiting classrooms or shaking hands with a child.But now, what’s happening with this speech about “the importance of education,” at a time when our education system is in serious need of assistance and morale–most especially in Texas? Well, some city officials in Austin seem to “get it.”[From today’s paper]: “Austin officials said the “district believes such speeches by any sitting president are worthy of Americans’ time, attention and consideration.” And they’re letting teachers decide whether or not to show the speech, depending on how it fits in with curriculum and classroom timing.The Obama administration claimed this is “the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s schoolchildren about persisting and succeeding in school.” I don't know if that claim is correct, but if it is, how sad is that if this has not been done before?The article also reports, “Web and radio campaigns called on parents to protest the speech by having their children call in sick to school Tuesday.”And here is what some of our nation’s esteemed statesmen had to say about it:Dan Patrick, R-Houston: “President Bush believed that no child should be left behind…President Obama apparently believes no voter should be left behind, no matter how young…This seems more of an extended campaign for himself, as opposed to focusing on the important issue of education.” What a generous helping of prejudgment, considering nobody has even heard the speech yet.Could the idea that “the president talked _to me_, as a school child,” not perhaps positively motivate some students–especially minority students who may identify with our current president and who disproportionately suffer from our dismal dropout rates? Also from the article, Jim Greer, Florida’s Republican Party Chair says Obama’s real motive is to indoctrinate students with his “socialist ideology.”Can we hear the message before we judge the content? And aren’t our public schools, a socialist endeavor?Just as in religion, it’s *isolate and indoctrinate*.

  8. 8
    Jeremy

    On Ed Brayton's blog he has a post about Obama's speech TracieH mentions and the right's apoplectic response (without having heard it yet, of course). Here's the link: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/09/the_obama_youth_are_coming.phpI left a comment there to show the disconnect involved. For years, if not decades, the right has been getting dishonest, incompetent and biased people elected to school boards across the country. This has been done in order to undermine the chance our children have of receiving a proper education by replacing it with their religious beliefs. This, in their minds, is somehow righteous no matter how many lies, half- truth and misrepresentations they have to make to accomplish this goal.Obama decides to make a speech addressing school children that encourages them to excell in their education. This is somehow the modern version of a Hitler Youth Rally designed to indoctrinate America's children into Obama's communist/ socialist/ fascist propaganda. Even if President Obama had a nefarious agenda behind this speech it would still remain miles behind the deceitful and nauseating actions they have committed so far. In defending their beliefs the religious will generally fall back to various logical fallacies. Some, such as arguments from authority and ignorance, have prevalence over others. The last year I have been trying to determine what seems to be the one on which they have the greater dependency. I have yet to come to any conclusion but, when it comes to fundamentalists of any stripe, I find that projection appears to be used more often than any of the others, especially when they interact with those that believe differently than they. As far as I can tell this stems from a deep level of narcissism on their part that will not allow their actions, and those of others, to be viewed in the proper context. This is remarkably so when their actions are at odds with their own proclaimed morality.

  9. 9
    tracieh

    >I find that projection appears to be used more often than any of the others…this stems from a deep level of narcissism on their part that will not allow their actions, and those of others, to be viewed in the proper context.Amen to that. We all understand our own motives best of all–and we see them in others whether they are there, or not. If our motives are nasty, then we see nastiness in everyone around us and distrust anyone who seems different. If our motives are good, we often are hard pressed to think ill of others motives without very solid cause. It's pretty well human nature to project. But it's certainly annoying to be the person who is being projected upon–especially when the person projecting is buring alive in their own hypocrisy as they point the finger.

  10. 10
    Thomas

    Wow. It is amazing that a President can give a speech to people who (mostly) will never be able to vote for him, on the subject "stay in school", and this is seen as a cynical attempt to grab votes?

  11. 11
    ls

    "http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/09/the_obama_youth_are_coming.php"First off, thinking people just shouldn't be watching Fox news, what's wrong with these people? Anything else is better (I prefer the weather channel myself). Turn that shit off!Second, there're some corrections necessary to Beck's comments (he can invent sensational water-buffalo bullshit off the cuff and call it Truth, so can I ;)). Translations interspersed:"Gang, you have a system that is wildly, wildly out of control, and "wildly wildly out of control" => "finally expressing opinions that happen to disagree with yours"they are capturing your kids. As "capturing"=>"broadening the education of""Van Jones himself has said, the earlier we get the kids, the""get"=>"educate, enlighten""earlier we make this adjustment with the youth, the easier this transition is going to be."=>"earlier we tell them the truth, the more easily they'll be able to distinguish it from bullshit in future"" Stand guard America. Your republic is under attack""republic"=>"old Klan-style attitudes"Ah, another good rant….LS

  12. 12
    Ing

    Beck reminds me of a less suave and calm Iago, seemingly just giggling and giddy about convincing people to give into their worst nature and spreading fear and paranoia for the fun of it.

  13. 13
    Jeremy

    Is said First off, thinking people just shouldn't be watching Fox newsI have to disagree. Thinking people should be the only ones watching Fox News because they can likely see through the bullsh!t spouted on a minute- to- minute basis. It's the unthinking people that should stay the hell away from Fox News.

  14. 14
    ls

    "have to disagree. Thinking people should be the only ones watching Fox News because they can likely see through the bullsh!t spouted on a minute- to- minute basis."Er, good point. Perhaps I should modify my remark to refer to watching Fox news if your goal is _be informed_. If it's entertainment or outrage you're after, sure, it's a great source for that.But for accurate information about the state of our society…. no…..That's like going to Matt Slick for an accurate or informed analysis of atheist thought. You don't go to the idiots and charlatans for good information about a subject. That's just stupid.A problem comes in, tho, when more people than just the morons start believing what is reported there. I.e. that most Americans are aligned with the morality and philosophy of the Ku Klux Klan. This is a legitimate hazard of even smart people dwelling on idiotic nonsense like Fox news.I remember when I was in graduate schoool one of my professors saying that becoming an educated person is hard and unglamorous. You have to do a lot of reading and study, often times sifting through stuff that's musty and wrong before you finally get to the correct, insightful stuff.Also, a lot of the time you also find out a lot of staid, comparatively ho-hum things about your world that force you to overturn and argue against the flashier, more scintillating stuff: i.e. instead of "there's a god out there who loves you behind this phenomenon X in your life" you instead discover "oops, no there's no evidence of a god working on X. Son of a bitch. Well ok, we don't know what's behind X". So there can be a real letdown there for people who are really sincerely devoted to moronic ideas when you try to inject some facts into them.That's why you get such visceral reactions from the idiots so much of the time rather than much application or acceptance of good reasoning.Fox news is, I submit, an institutionalization of that kind of reaction – no no, I don't want to consider the truth, it's all just too depressing! I'd rather live in a fantasy world of idiocy and ignorance.That's why I refuse to watch it, anyway. YMMV but I prefer to take the mild knocks to my mood and remain informed as best I can. Caveat Emptor!LS

  15. 15
    Jeremy

    Is- I can agree with that. Just because someone is educated, intelligent and/ or thinking is not a guarantee that they will not fall for incorrect or out right insane beliefs and ideas. For example, a friend of mine, who I general regard as level- headed and smart, recently flooded me with the paranoid ravings of the 9/11 "truth" movement and the Illuminati. Of course, he's also something of a misanthrope, so he does have a tendency to think the worst of people and such conspiracy theories easily gel with that mindset. To be more specific, in regards to 9/11 he doesn't think it so much a government conspiracy but a giant insurance scam committed by the owner of the WTC complex with tangential benefits for certain government players. It's often said that it is sometimes easier to fool an intelligent/ educated person. They can't think of a rebuttal to a claim and figure that, since they are smart/ educated, it must be true. There has be a critical mindset, either natural and/ or learned, in place to begin with and many otherwise intelligent people will simply never develop those skills.

  16. 16
    Ing

    @ JeramyOn the converse side, it is hard to hypnotize someone who knows how hypnotism works. I know first hand from a demonstration how i wasn't a very good candidate for the stage show XD. The performer however was very honest and had a bunch of people on stage and simply sent them back to the seats when they snapped out of a trance. A few people were in it the full time and it was fun to watch.

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