Above: Former State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy delivers a rousing commentary Tuesday afternoon, saying textbooks proposed for Texas schools will be a huge victory for creationism.
It’s not like this is the first time we’ve witnessed right-wing social conservatives actively challenging that questionable “theory” of what so-called “scientists” like to call “evolution.” And I’m sure it won’t be the last, seeing as some, if not all, of the opponents are clearly still, um, evolving. But every time the Texas State Board of Education considers new public school textbooks, instructional materials and related curriculum, we’re forced to listen to the tirades from direct descendants of Adam and Eve about how public schools are failing to adequately reflect Judeo-Christian values. (Not that you can’t learn a lot about the origins of life and the perils of natural selection from the Old Testament. Like, why are there no more unicorns?)
On Tuesday the board of education held the first dramatic public hearing regarding new high school biology books. (First of all, why are we even teaching our children biology? Some textbooks that I’ve seen discuss plant reproduction in full detail. We might as well just pass out condoms.) Science textbooks are inherently controversial due to their reliance on liberal, possibly communist, junk science like evolution, dubious fossil records and climate change. Once approved the books could be used over the next 10 years by states across the country. Not to worry. In 10 years the only people left on this post-apocalyptic planet will be scientists, atheists and Marshall, Will and Holly.
The anti-education board of education appointed so-called volunteer citizen committees to review the textbooks (and, perhaps, burn them in the town square) before the approval process even began. They’re volunteering for this? There must be better ways for them to spend their spare time, like quilting. According to the Texas Freedom Network, at least six reviewers are vocal creationists. One reviewer is a retired Baylor professor, which sounds somewhat promising until you find out that he’s also the co-author of a book on intelligent design. Are you kidding me? Not even God believes in intelligent design. (He considers himself strictly a young-earth creationist.)
Luckily in 2011 the Legislature passed a law that allows school districts to choose their own educational materials without board approval. Basically districts can teach whatever they want on the taxpayer dime. Question: What’s the difference between public school in Texas and homeschooling? Answer: Your mom.
Testifying at Tuesday’s hearing former SBOE chairman Don McLeroy proclaimed that if the board were to adopt new anti-science textbooks, they will effectively “strike the final blow to the teaching of evolution.” I would say this latest crusade is a new low for SBOE except for the fact that a few years ago they proposed that all references to “slave trade” in history texts be replaced by “Atlantic triangular trade.”
Sure, it might make sense to downplay Abraham Lincoln in favor of touting the significant contributions of Newt Gingrich to American history but evolution? How can people argue with science? The very origins of the universe? Humanity itself? This changes everything. It especially gives credence to my personal theory that the world didn’t exist before I was born. How can I be sure? Am I supposed to just blindly accept the fact that the earth was actually here before me?