Friday, May 29, 2009

Texas Senate Ousts Creationism Proponent from State Board of Education Chairmanship

The Houston Chronicle's Austin Bureau reported late yesterday that Democrats in the Texas State Senate had blocked Gov. Rick Perry's attempt to reappoint creationism proponent Don McLeroy as chair of the State Board of Education.

McLeroy's Republican supporters were quick to say that his ouster was retaliation for his self-styled 'Christian beliefs,' which for him include creationism and the conviction that the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old.

Democrats said their issue was not "evolution versus creationism," but that McLeroy had allowed his personal religious beliefs to polarize the board and to try to get the board to ignore experts' advice not only on guidelines for the science curriculum, but also on English, language arts and reading skills.

Despite McLeroy's attempts to lead the board in his direction, the board did vote in late March to stop requiring Texas science teachers to address "the strengths and weaknesses" of Darwin's theory of evolution. But at the same time the board also passed another policy that could be used to water down the teaching of evolution--"creating expectations that students analyze and evaluate such issues as fossil data and the complexity of the cell," but without any specific reference to common ancestry or natural selection.

Clearly the Senate vote trumpets the message that attempts to foist creationism or intelligent design on public school students--which the federal courts have already declared an unconstitutional establishment of religion--can have political consequences too, even in Texas. I think that's a very good thing.

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