By Nancy Jane Moore
A few years ago, I was working on a novel in which a biologist testified against "intelligent" design before a hostile committee of the Texas Legislature. But then Federal Judge John Jones issued his ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (PDF file), thoroughly discrediting the anti-evolution forces. Things even began to change in Kansas, as thoroughly documented here on In This Moment. So I put the novel aside.
Obviously I gave up too soon. The Texas Education Agency just fired its director of science for forwarding an email announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest, one of the witnesses who helped defeat the creationist forces in the Dover case. According to The New York Times, Christine Castillo Comer was fired in part for siding against creationism. Apparently she was also fired for insubordination.
While Comer, who spent 27 years teaching science before taking up her job at the TEA, certainly accepts the scientific theory of evolution and rejects creationism -- that's obvious in her interview on Talk of the Nation Science Friday -- all she did was forward an email about a speech. While dealing with idiots who are apparently committed to ensuring that Texas students are ill-prepared in biology must have been frustrating, I assume Comer figured she would be more effective working to combat the anti-evolution forces on the inside. Besides, she probably needed her job.
This would be laughable if it wasn't so important. Given global warming and the high tech nature of our economy, solid grounding in the sciences is not just an educational perk, it's a necessity. The Times reports that the Texas State Board of Education is about to review the standards for teaching evolution beginning in February.
In Texas, state education money can only be used to buy books approved by the Education board, so if they approve books that are even wishy-washy about evolution -- much less books touting "intelligent" design -- those books will be used by most schools. Texas is a huge textbook market, so publishers will make revisions to their books to get them approved for the state.
I'm in the process of moving back to Texas after many years in Washington, D.C., so I'm watching this struggle with a combination of amusement and horror. I can't deny that it's fun to watch this sort of thing -- here's a piece I just stumbled on in The Times from back in February about a Texas state legislator who managed to offend most of the Jews in the state by sending out a memo claiming evolution comes from the Kabbalah. (You can't make this stuff up.)
But the stakes are just too high to let these foolish people promote their agenda for our amusement. We need to educate our children, not indoctrinate them.