The Center for Inquiry in Austin hosted a meeting that asked the question, Will Texas Support 21st Century Science Education? The good news is that the place was packed, and there are a lot of rational, intelligent people in Texas who are fed up with the lunatics running the show and are motivated to do something about it. That’s kind of the theme here; we’re having a rising grassroots revolution here that’s going to throw these rascals out.
But here’s the bad news: we’ve been slacking off, and the raving fundie nitwits have taken a lot of political power.
Here’s why the situation for science is so dire right now. Science standards are coming up for review later this year, and right now, the State Board of Education is not only run by a YEC, but out of the SBOE’s fifteen members, seven of them are YEC’s.
And it gets worse…there’s a chance that the Texas board will gain a creationist majority, and the Democratic party is absolutely spineless and worthless.
Now this part is important: Right now the fundies are running some fundie wingnut against Patricia Hardy, a non-fundamentalist, non-creationist Republican. If Hardy loses to this person, then the YEC’s will flip to a majority on the SBOE and every schoolchild in Texas will be assured of a 19th century education. In other words, they’ll be fuct, and Texas will become as bad a laughingstock as Kansas was a few years back.
What about the Democrats, you ask? Who are they running? Well, no one. Apparently the Democratic party in Texas doesn’t care about the SBOE, preferring to devote its efforts toward the legislature. So that means there’s no outright progressive, solidly pro-science candidate to vote for. The best we have is a moderate Republican. But that’s better than nothing, I imagine.
Now if you think Texas is bad, take a look at Florida. The school boards there are an amazing collection of the most ignorant and obtuse members of society — in Clay County, the board members went on and on, openly discussing the fact that they didn’t know the meaning of “theory” or “concept”, and then went ahead and voted to reject the theory of evolution. They had an overwhelming majority of the community members in attendance argue against their resolution and favoring teaching evolution (again, demonstrating that community members are not as stupid as their school boards), and the board ignored them to vote for the resolution (demonstrating that they are not representative, as well as ignorant.)
I can imagine how the residents of Texas and Florida feel. They’re trusting that their schools are well run, that smart, educated people are in charge of making curriculum decisions, and then one day they wake up and notice that a gang of dumb-as-rocks yahoos with a bizarre religious agenda are calling the shots … and just maybe, after Dover, they’re realizing that these gomers are going to cost the school district a million dollars, as well as crippling the science education of a whole cohort of students.
Wake up NOW. Look at your local school board, and realize that those races are important. Run for office yourself. Start a local group to promote better science education, and recruit candidates from your ranks. Get out and vote. Those counties where the fools have taken hold are facing a few years where the curriculum is going to be wrecked for the students — and those are years that are going to be simply lost to those students. Don’t let it happen to your schools.