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