The Texas Board of Ed Chair is Upset Schools Aren't Teaching Evolution "Alternatives"

BarbaraCargill.jpg
Barbara Cargill
In 2009, science-respecting members of the State Board of Education succeeded in scrubbing the state's science curriculum standards of a requirement to discuss the "weaknesses" of evolution, which would have opened the gates to less scientific theories, namely intelligent design and creationism. But it wasn't a wholesale victory, as Kathy Miller, who directs the SBOE-watchdog Texas Freedom Network, warned at the time.

"The word 'weaknesses' no longer appears in the science standards. But the document still has plenty of potential footholds for creationist attacks on evolution to make their way into Texas classrooms," she said. "Through a series of contradictory and convoluted amendments, the board crafted a road map that creationists will use to pressure publishers into putting phony arguments attacking established science into textbooks."

Those remarks, it appears, were prescient.

"We told you this would happen," TFN spokesman Dan Quinn wrote in a blog post this morning.

SBOE chair Barbara Cargill, a Republican from The Woodlands, spoke to a Senate Education Committee last Tuesday about CSCOPE, the state's shouldn't-be-controversial-but-is curriculum management system. Here's what she said:

"Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations ... But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website] last night, I couldn't see anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution," she says, according to TFN's transcript and brief video clip. "Every link, every lesson, every everything, you know, was taught as 'this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,' and all that's fine, but that's only one side."

Cargill does not specify what the other side to the evolution theory might be. Whatever her theory of choice is, TFN's Miller called the comments "a big red flag."

"Senators must ask hard questions about whether she will pressure publishers into writing textbooks to conform to her personal beliefs instead of sound science and once again put the culture wars ahead of our children's education," she said in a statement today.

And so, while legislation last session weakened the SBOE's stranglehold on what goes into Texas' (and others') textbooks and November elections ushered in more moderate board members, the battle for school children's minds remains pitched.

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23 comments
bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Ms. Cargill's mixing of science and religion is a sword with two edges. If it squeezes science into the confines of Genesis, it also subjects God to the constraints of the physical world -- He works the day shift, rests on the sabbath, takes strolls in the garden. This is not the eternal, omnipotent God of Christianity but some kind of primitive, tribal deity.

John1073
John1073

Or entitled "Why rational people need to vote in SBOE elections"

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

How come Ms. Cargill is not pushing to get the other side of Newton's theory of universal gravitation taught in the classroom? It's called The Origin of Spaces and it's firmly rooted in the Bible. It states, if I remember correctly, that God created the heavens and set the stars in their spaces, and since each star has its proper space, they can't possibly be attracting each other, as Newton mistakenly believed. A succinct statement of the anti-gravity theory is: A space for everything, and everything in its space.   

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Cackle cackle

blah blah blah

Praze Jeebus

Just die already

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Judging by the dismal performance of the schools in this country, why would anyone want the schools teaching articles of faith?  On second thought let's conform religion to the school system.  We could hand out scantron sheets every Sunday morning, those scoring in the top 20th percentile get their sins forgiven and can go on about their otherwise secular lives.  Those scoring in the 40-80 percentile range can be subjected to any of a number of sermons uploaded to YouTube for remedial instruction.  20-40 percenters will be sent across town to an orgy.  The bottom 20 percent will be white, and are, according to one of our leading pols, going to hell anyway.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

the fact that Barbara Cargill believes that evolution is about the origin of life tells us all we need to know about her qualifications. Clearly she has insufficient understanding about evolution to have her opinion worth anything. and she is chair of the state board of education? go figure.

what a dolt.

drtz
drtz

This whole debate is ridiculous.  The theory of evolution doesn't rule out the possibility of an intelligent creator at all.

The sensitive feelings of those who refuse to accept anything but a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible isn't what we need science class to focus on as our kids are continuing to fall further behind the rest of the developed world in science and math.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Darwin's book is titled: "The Origin of Species"  It is not titled "The Origin of Life"  Darwin makes no claims on the origin of life.  His work assumes that life exists and it may evolve from one creature to another.  A basic purpose of any life form is to perpetuate that life form.  A life form does that by occupying niches where it may obtain food, shelter and propagate itself; and, defend its environmental niche from other life forms.


As far as the origin of species, I would say that Darwin is pretty close to being on the mark.


As far as the origin of life, I haven't a clue other than faith.


As far as these other "theories", fine, let's apply the scientific method and we will analyze your data.


Personally, I often wonder what life would be like on a planet where instead of a carbon backbone to the high MW compounds, it is a silicon backbone instead.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Science refers to the fossil record as this is "evidence."  That evidence and it's use illustrate how the "science" works.  What is the point of teaching otherwise?  I think the liberals, or people who appreciate science might be best identified, should give in on this issue.  Have the teachers issue a perfunctory statement:

"Some believe this is all to confuse you that God created the Earth 8000 years ago, while others believe this evidence shows how the world we're in came to be, though some of them think God might have had some smaller role, while others accredit this system to God's great design.  All those are possible, but in this science class, we're gonna study how we came to believe what we believe; while informing you what we've learned and believe today." 

That said, let's develop the best science curricula possible and move on.  Throw them their 5 minute bone and shut them up.  Their arguments aren't rooted in science, so aren't really otherwise appropriate for science class.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@bmarvel Einstein's Theory of Relativity is clearly at odds with the Bible.  The fact that God is everywhere is clearly at odds with Einstein's crazy unfounded belief that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.


Where is the course content that debunks this so-called theory by Einstein?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@scottindallas"I think the liberals, or people who appreciate science..."  Now there's left-wing science and right-wing science?? Okay. So, Newton's Law of Gravity: Liberal or conservative? General Relativity: Left or right? Hubble's Constant of Cosmic Expansion? Thermodynamicsz? I hope you can clear this stuff up for us, scott.

CraigT42
CraigT42

@scottindallas

Why even give them that bone? Present science as science, ignore mysticism fairy tales and move on.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@bmarvel @scottindallas come on Bill, liberals, OR people who appreciate science.  I was simply trying to be broad and inclusive, I was trying to avoid the partisan division.  But if we're gonna fight about how to identify those who want science taught and don't care about any accommodation towards the faiths of others in the class to simply allow the perfunctory statement--I guess we can't ever get anything done.  I'm not saying mine was the most articulate phrasing, I was intending to be inclusive.  Observist got my intention, sorry you misunderstood.

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel @scottindallas I think he meant "liberals, or rather, not just liberals but the larger group of people who appreciate science"  specifically to include non-fundamentalist conservatives.

James080
James080

@CraigT42  

Exactly. How about -

"We are going to teach you what science has determined, from all of the tangible facts and evidence available to date, to be the most likely theory of the evolution of life on this planet. If you would rather study the same subject based solely on faith, but with no tangible facts or evidence to support that faith, you are free to obtain that instruction on Sunday mornings at your neighborhood religious institution."

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel @observist In that case, the small-c conservatives should consider either re-taking or seceding from the party that's been taken over by the big-C Conservative (TM) asshats who want their religion taught in science classes.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist Gotta point out, observist, that most Christians and probably most "conservatives" are perfectly at home with evolution, Darwin, and all that. So scott was making an unnecessary distinction.

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