Texas creationist McLeroy spins the educational disaster he created

Bad Astronomy
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Jan. 6 2011 10:41 AM

Texas creationist McLeroy spins the educational disaster he created

Let's get this straight right off the bat: young-Earth creationism is wrong. It's the wrongiest wrongness in the history of wrongitude. We know for rock-solid fact the Earth and the Universe are billions of years old, not thousands. Also, it's illegal -- unconstitutional, even -- to teach creationism as anything other than myth in public schools, since it's religion.

So you just know that reading an op-ed from Don McLeroy -- an evangelistic creationist who was (was, thank heavens) the head of the Texas State Board of Education -- trying to defend and spin the BoE's insertion of religion and far-right rhetoric into the state standards is going to be head-explodey.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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And it is.

Mind you, this is the one and the same Texas BoE that has been fighting teaching kids about evolution tooth and nail, which downplayed the Big Bang theory, which took Thomas Jefferson out of the standards, which praised Joseph McCarthy, which screwed up the state standards so massively California issued a warning that it would be looking at what Texas is doing to textbooks very carefully. The very same BoE that had the gall to pass a resolution condemning textbooks they perceived as pro-Muslim while ramming fundamentalist religion into those same textbooks.

Ah, memories. I wrote a synopsis on all the damage this BoE has done, if your brain can stand it.

So anyway, reading McLeroy's apologetics in the op-ed is astounding. Before he even starts, the nonsense and spin begins; the headline is "McLeroy: The State Board of Education's standards should make Texans proud". Yeah.

OK, here's a fun sample of what McLeroy says:

New science standards were adopted in March 2009. [...] The controversy over science standards was actually the result of an attempted hijacking of science for ideological purposes by evolutionists. Their agenda was much more about worldviews than biology. The standards reflect real science and challenge students to study some of evolution's most glaring weaknesses in explaining the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.

Actually, it really was about biology, and how the conservative Board members kept trying to distort scientific reality. It was McLeroy and his cohorts who inserted worldviews into the standards; his and the Board majority's extremely narrow and religious view of the world. This is a standard creationist tactic: accuse others of doing what you're doing. By the way, those "glaring weaknesses" are nothing of the sort; the Board uses weasel words and language to make it seem like evolution is a weak idea, when in fact it is the very basis and unifying concept in modern biology.

Here's another fun one:

One significant standard brings much needed clarity to the commonly misunderstood phrase "separation of church and state." Our children will learn that it is not in the Constitution and, ironically, how it undermines the very language our Constitution uses to guarantee us religious liberty.

Technically, he's correct that this phrase doesn't appear in the Constitution. However, teaching kids that fact doesn't really give them much insight into the First Amendment, which does actually guarantee that exact separation. And the irony is all him, since the phrase not only doesn't undermine the Constitution, it's one of the document's major points. After all, the word "God" doesn't appear anywhere in it, which would be an odd thing for a document to leave off if, in fact, the country's laws were founded on religion. The point, totally lost on theocrats like McLeroy, is that by guaranteeing a freedom from government endorsement of religion, no one's beliefs or lack thereof get infringed. I wonder how he'd feel if a Muslims gained a majority on the BoE and they started fiddling with the standards the way he did... oh wait, we know exactly how he'd feel.

Anyway, you can read the rest of his nonsense in the op-ed -- and I recommend you do. It's a hoot. The thing that gets me is, I know a lot of people would accuse McLeroy of lying in the op-ed about what he and the BoE did. And the real problem is that he's not lying. He's totally and grossly wrong, but I'm completely sure that he believes every word of what he wrote.

And that is precisely why this image is still applicable:

Tip o' the ten gallon hat to absolutspacegirl.


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