Friday, November 30, 2007

Creationism politics invade Austin

This story should have been on Page 1A of the Dallas Morning News, but alas the Cowboys played last night (very exciting game by the way) so that was splashed across the front page. But on page 8A is an Associated Press article about the resignation of Chris Comer, the state's science curriculum director.

The Austin American-Statesman covered the story so the News didn't have to be bothered:
Comer was put on 30 days paid administrative leave shortly after she forwarded an e-mail in late October announcing a presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse," a book that says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. Forrest was also a key witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case concerning the introduction of intelligent design in a Pennsylvania school district. Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities, saying, "FYI."

Agency officials cited the e-mail in a memo recommending her termination. They said forwarding the e-mail not only violated a directive for her not to communicate in writing or otherwise with anyone outside the agency regarding an upcoming science curriculum review, "it directly conflicts with her responsibilities as the Director of Science."

The memo adds, "Ms. Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral."

How can this happen in the 2nd most populous state in the US? In 2007? Based on this Comer didn't even advocate against teaching intelligent design in science class. Let's say she did, though. She's the "curriculum director." Sounds like part of the job to me. And keeping non-science intelligent design out of the science class would be doing the students of the state of Texas a service.

Let's examine that last line quoted from the memo: this is "a subject on which the agency must remain neutral." Why is that? What part of the mandate of TEA requires their curriculum people to be neutral regarding the content of what is taught? That is ridiculous. They need to remain neutral because its politically expedient and ticks the fewest people off. Here's an idea, have scientists develop the science curriculum. Leave the flat-earth people off the committee, no matter how loud they are.

Apparently the Austin Bureau of the News was busy finding a bar to watch the Cowboys game last night rather than writing this story. I can't even find it on their web site. The News is supposed to be "Texas' Leading Newspaper," by the way. And no, I'm not ready to cancel my subscription yet, but I think of it often.

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