Texas Citizens for Science has come up with the site visit report for the ICR. It’s funky stuff: it seems they had creationist-sympathizers review the program, and they issued a pile of fluff and let them slide on their content.
The PDF file contains (1) the Report of Evaluation of the ICR by the THECB Site Visit Team and (2) the ICR Initial Response to the Report of Evaluation. The latter Response contains ICR’s Strategic Plan and Budgeting Process Timeline for their new Dallas institution.
The on-site evaluation committee of the THECB visited ICR on November 8, 2007. The on-site visiting committee consisted of (1) David Rankin, PhD, Social Sciences Reference/Government Documents Librarian, Texas A&M University-Commerce, (2) Lee “Rusty” Waller, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Texas A&M University-Commerce; and (3) Gloria White, EdD, Managing Director, Dana Research Center for Mathematics and Science Education, The University of Texas at Austin. TCS believes that two of these individuals are not qualified to judge the qualifications of a proposed “scientific” graduate school that plans to offer Masters Degrees in Science Education. Also, if one reads their report, it is immediately obvious that all three were sympathetic to the aims and goals of Young Earth Creationism and wrote a biased report whose fairness and accuracy is highly suspect. An investigation should be made about how these three individuals were selected for the on-site visit. Were they recommended to the THECB by the ICR itself? Who on the Board staff selected these three for the site visit? TCS predicts that an investigation will reveal that cronyism was involved (nothing new for Texas, admittedly, but somewhat unusual in science and science education).
The evaluation committee reported the following:
A review of the vita of the full-time teaching faculty by the site visit team indicated that the faculty’s credentials are appropriate….It is fair to say that the education, experience, and characteristics of the ICR faculty in higher education are such that one may reasonably conclude that students will receive an education consistent with the objectives of the proposed master’s degree from ICR. In addition, the ICR faculty consistently stressed to the site visit team that they always include in their courses multiple perspectives on the science topics presented. In particular, they explained in detail how they provide not only the “creationist” perspective but also the “more typical secular” perspectives on the science topics covered in their courses.
The institution also makes clear in the faculty handbook the expectation that faculty publications should promote a creationist point of view, and represent unequivocal commitment to the stated doctrinal positions in the institution’s Bylaws. The institution’s statement on academic freedom has been distributed to all the faculty….
The differing perspectives of the creation/evolution issue was addressed by the faculty member in each of the courses, so that students will know and understand current scientific information and research from non-creationist scientists. Obviously, the faculty member in each of the courses also provides the student with the creationist perspective, as well. When asked if students seemed reluctant to learn about the creationist view of scientific topics as part of the course, the faculty indicated that the students at ICR tend to self-select such that they already have views that closely match those of the faculty and administration of ICR.
It is fair to say that the proposed master’s degree in science education, while carrying an embedded component of creationist perspectives/views, is nevertheless a plausible program. The proposed degree would be generally comparable to an initial master’s degree in science education from on of the smaller, regional universities in the state.
It is difficult to believe that anyone could write these paragraphs without having absolutely no understanding or appreciation of irony. It should be obvious to anyone with the smallest amount of reliable scientific understanding that ICR does not plan to teach legitimate science and that the school is an enormous con job. The site visit team writes, “It is fair to say that the education, experience, and characteristics of the ICR faculty in higher education are such that one may reasonably conclude that students will receive an education consistent with the objectives of the proposed master’s degree from ICR.” This is double-talk or Newspeak. ICR could be teaching Geocentricism or Flying Pig Farming instead of Young Earth Creationism and the statement would still be true. Are there really no principled educational standards in Texas?
A scientific view of nature is described by the ICR as the “more typical secular” perspective and the site team accepts this! Both secular and religious scientists would object to this. The reference to “non-creationist scientists” is priceless! Is this the new THECB term for what ordinary people would call a “scientist”? It’s a good idea to be specific when using new terms!
The site team writes, “The proposed degree would be generally comparable to an initial master’s degree in science education from on of the smaller, regional universities in the state.” This statement is just completely FALSE. There is NOTHING comparable between a master’s degree in science education from a regional Texas university and one in pseudoscience education from ICR. Only individuals with (1) absolutely no scientific and educational competence or (2) are overwhelmingly biased and compromised in the professional conduct of their evaluation could write such a duplicitous sentence such as this. This is absolutely shameful and disgusting behavior. It is scandalous that such contempt for science education goes on in our state under the official purview of a state agency that is supposed to be dedicated to the goal “to achieve excellence for the college education of Texas students.”
Hypocrisy is really piled higher and deeper in Texas.
Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
ICR advertises its bogus master of science program in the latest issue of Acts & Facts, the organization’s monthly magazine. The December 2007 edition contains a lovely example of what ICR thinks is “science”: since the earth is only 6000 years old (Bible fact!), radioactive isotopes must have decayed much more rapidly in the past than they do today. The “scientific” problem? What happened to all that quickly generated heat and radiation? Did Noah glow in the dark? More here.
“One on-site classroom … contained tables and chairs … and … a computer … with access to the Internet.”
And here I thought they were bogus ….
Erasmus, FCD says
They got Apple IIe to run on dial up? Sweeeeeet.
“…a plausible program…”
Right. I have some swampland in Florida to sell these folks.
Sastra, OM says
Perhaps they want creationism to borrow the strategy of homeopathy: market pseudoscience as the “alternative” which is “just as good” as regular medicine, because you get to try it to see if it works for you — and that’s the part that matters. You. Getting to choose what’s right for you.
Having a degree in Intelligent Design will be like getting to put that you’re a “Doctor” of Chiropractic or a “credited” Naturopath. You can shoot healing energy out of your fingertips that physicists can’t find — but that’s okay, because it’s a different kind of energy which can’t be studied in regular labs, so the studies that confirm it are printed in different, friendlier, nicer peer-review journals.
The public is already primed to separate what they apparently think are different kinds of science.
Wow. How does an assistant professor of a “Department of Educational Leadership” from a small, regional institution get on an accreditation committee for a college-level scientific discipline?
Gene Goldring says
The ICR agreed to do an interview with me while I was in Texas for my Nonfiction Film project. When I called that day to confirm the interview, they scrambled to think of an excuse as to why they couldn’t do an interview anymore, eventually settling on “Well, you can do anything with video, and that makes us uncomfortable.” So that ruined my project pretty quickly.
The scientists and teachers I asked for interviews? All of them complied.
Brian X says
It’s a shell account, linked to a Pentium Pro Minix server in someone’s closet that used to be taken up by a Commodore 64 running a BBS. That should be pretty much all the processing power an ICR master’s candidate should need for their scientific research — even comes with a copy of the KJV in a text file…
Bob O'H says
It should be easy to delay the application, at least. Look at the section on library facilities. Basically, there aren’t any: the librarian works 4 hours a week, and the students are worldwide, and but they don’t provide any help in getting local support. The ICR’s reaction? “Ooops. PANIC!!”.
JohnnieCanuck, FCD says
But all the librarian has to do is refer students to Wikipedia. That amount of email shouldn’t take more than 4 hours a week. :)
“But all the librarian has to do is refer students to Wikipedia. That amount of email shouldn’t take more than 4 hours a week. :)”
Make that the Conservapedia. You should know that Wikipedia has a bias towards evolution and British English.
Peter Ashby says
Wikipedia uses British English because it is more modern than US English. Most of the peculiarities of US English like ‘gotten’ are features that have become archaisms in British English. Our version evolved while, like most expat communities, your version was preserved in aspic as it was when the Puritan Fathers left. When the straitjacket was finally broken it was too late to catch up.
Fortunately New Zealand and Australia were settled much later and in an age when communications were much better so differences got ironed out to some extent.
So Wikipedia is simply being modern ;-)
Ed Darrell says
The curriculum ICR trains educators in is a curriculum that has been found illegal in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arkansas (twice), California, Louisiana, and the United States of America.
If I set up a curriculum at Texas A&M to train people how to grow opium, would I be greeted so warmly as ICR? We would talk about fertilizing, watering, sunlight needs, and marketing through non-traditional channels — and we’ll have the best fertilizing people, watering people, and marketing people.
No, we won’t mention it’s illegal.
Now tell me: What’s the difference between an opium growing degree and a creationism degree?
Ed Darrell says
Opium too much of a stretch? How about peyote, then: It’s legal in the U.S., for religious use only, sorta like creationism.
Why is Texas authorizing illegal activities?
Tracy P. Hamilton says
“But all the librarian has to do is refer students to Wikipedia. That amount of email shouldn’t take more than 4 hours a week.”
The ICR would never refer anybody to that bastion of liberal lies. Conservapaedia is the “library”.
Shouldn’t the ICR program be referred to as a “Masters in Pseudoscience Education”?
I hate to have to say this, but what they are teaching is only illegal in public schools. Private fundie schools can teach whatever they want.
Steven Levery says
I’m heartened to see TCS taking this kind of initiative. Although I’m leaving the country for a while (sorry), I am hoping there will be some way for me to participate, if only to add my voice “officially” to the public outcry. What this and other stories coming out of Texas and Florida show is that ID (and here I mean their organized attempts to influence the science curriculum, not their right to espouse publicly any bullshit they like) will not go down without a fight. I’ve seen a few comments here and there suggesting that because it’s not science and doesn’t work, “the truth will out”, and that will ultimately suffice to kill it. I think we know by now we can’t simply sit back and wait for them to die. They realize that they can’t win in the arena of rational investigation, but they can through indoctrination. On the face of it, ID may not be fit for survival, but they will eventually come with numbers if we let them. The truth, even what we consider self-evident truth, has to be fought for like anything else.
I have no particular influence myself, but will write a letter anyway. If there’s an on-line petition, I’ll sign, and if there isn’t one yet, I’m willing to get one started, if y’all think it would be useful. I don’t have experience with that yet, so any suggestions about the best venue would be helpful. It would be great if it really dawns on these idiot administrators in Texas that they’ve stirred up a hornets nest country-wide. I realize if provoked by “outsiders”, Texans may feel they can simply circle the wagons to fend us off. Great. Then TCS can shoot them all the better from behind.
That’s my 2 cents for today. It’s finals week here, so I’m sorry if I’ve missed anything obvious or just repeating what’s already been stated.
“The Texas Brainsaw Massacre”
Paul W. says
It may be worth noting that Texas doesn’t do the actual accrediting in Texas. That’s done by SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
SACS one of the six regional accrediting bodies that cover different areas of the U.S., and accredit most “real” colleges and universities. (As opposed to Bible Colleges, etc., which have their own accrediting organizations.)
I would hope that Texas certifying ICR to apply for accreditation would not mean much. In principle, that just means Texas is saying “sure, go ahead and try; if you get SACS to accredit you, we’ll recognize that.”
What matters is whether SACS has reasonable standards and would refuse to accredit, as they should.
I would hope, but don’t know, that it should be a lot harder to impress SACS than to impress Texas bureaucrats.
Steve LaBonne says
If there is any chance at all that they would get regional accreditation then we’re in even bigger trouble than I thought (which is going some). Fortunately I agree with Paul W.- that’s pretty much unthinkable.
Unfortunately getting state certification to apply would be bad enough- 1) it would hand them a bogus “credential” that they could still use to impress the ignorant, and 2) it would signal the complete collapse of the Texas education bureaucracy into hopeless corruption, and put up an “open for business” sign over their headquarters for every kind of anti-science religious nut in the state. So TCS’s efforts to stop this travesty are still very important.
Note to hiring managers: “The proposed degree would be generally comparable to an initial master’s degree in science education from on of the smaller, regional universities in the state.”, or, in other words, all master’s degrees from Texas are equivalent to a master’s degree from this place. I foresee lots of unemployeeed Texans.
Paul W. says
Here’s a page at the SACS web site about their public comment process:
That’s for the coming year (or maybe the first of 2 meetings for the year), and ICR isn’t on the list yet, but the page has some links to info about the process.
Mike from Ottawa says
“What’s the difference between an opium growing degree and a creationism degree?”
A degree in opium growing could be useful.
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