Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Night of the Living Dead in New Orleans

Defending Science in Florida: Fighting the Good Fight

Wesley R. Elsberry, in response to my earlier post about Florida's new chancellor, informs us that he is leading an effort to defend science in Florida. His comment:

"I am working on organizing "Florida Citizens for Science". Citizens for Science groups have been instrumental across the country in defeating or ameliorating the antievolution attacks on science education. Please drop by the Austringer and leave your email address if you would like to join Florida Citizens for Science. There's a lot of hard work ahead. We need people who want to see science taught in science classes and non-science taught elsewhere. For more information on getting involved, please see the National Center for Science Education site, where I work."
I have signed up. Have you done your part? Defend science in Florida now.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Derbyshire gets it right on ID

John Derbyshire of National Review, not my favorite person, has an excellent piece up that trashes the idea that schools should teach Intelligent Design. He argues, basically, that if science classes teach Intelligent Design, they should also teach such fun fantasies as hollow-earth theory, astrology, and all of the other nonsense pseudo-science that plagues man. To those that feel the faith of their child would be threatened by the teaching of evolution, he has this to say:

If you are afraid that your children, being confronted with science in school, will turn into atheists and materialists, you have a wide variety of options available to you in this free nation. Most obviously, you should take your kids to church regularly, encourage them to pray, say grace before meals, and respond to those knotty questions that children sometimes ask with answers from your own faith. Or you could homeschool them, or send them to a religious school, and make sure they are not exposed to the science you fear so much.

What a great line. God forbid we gain exposure to anything that we fear, and that might challenge our worldview. Thank you, Mr. Derbyshire, for a strong defense of science education and a powerful take down of what amounts to 'faith-based' science. Wow, I'm thanking John Derbyshire. Weird.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thanks, Minnesota. Thanks a bunch.

Via Pharyngula, I see that Florida gets the lovely Cheri Yecke as the new K-12 Chancellor. This is not a good omen for education in the state. You see, Cheri Yecke wishes to 'avoid' the controversy of evolution, or, barring that, allow school boards to introduce 'alternative' theories. She is, simply, another face of the creationist-id movement. Interesting that Florida hired her despite not being retained by Minnesota, due in part to the controversy of her 'leadership.' One wonders if the fact that science standards are up for review next year has anything to do with her hiring.
The good chancellor is not only bad news for science, however; she has also been known to stick her finger into the history pie. For example, she has argued that history standards should not refer to the 'genocide' of Native Americans; rather, she has put forward the notion that it was all one big misunderstanding, an accident really. A committee she organized and led to push new history standards was not really in favor of alternative viewpoints. From the Organization of American Historians, we get a nice glimpse into the inner thinking of Yecke's committee:

For example, in a discussion of the kindergarten Civics standard describing the “virtues of good citizens,” the subcommittee decided to omit “sharing and cooperation” because these were too “socialist.” At another meeting, the subcommittee agreed that it would be inappropriate to teach middle school students about the economics of slavery, because the knowledge that human beings were bought and sold as merchandise might “prejudice the students against a free market economy.” In response to a critique that urged the inclusion of protest songs (“We Shall Overcome,” “This Land is Your Land”) as well as patriotic songs (“American the Beautiful,” “God Bless America”), one committee member even suggested that they list the controversial Confederate anthem “Dixie” as the sole example. In response to another critique noting the absence of organized labor from both the U.S. History and the Economics standards, a different committee member sputtered, “unions! Don’t even go there!” In general, they were only interested in those facts and interpretations that reinforced a triumphalist view of the United States and glorified individualism, as they grudgingly corrected some of the most evident errors and addressed a few of the most conspicuous omissions.

Oh yes, this is most definitely a good sign. What a joke. I shudder for the status of public education in this state in 10 years. It won't be pretty.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at Floridablues)
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