Time magazine digs into Mayor Palin’s early days:
At some point in those the fractious first days, Palin told the department heads they needed her permission to talk to reporters. “She put a gag order on those people, something that you’d expect to find in the big city, not here,” says [local paper editor] Naegele. “She flew in there like a big city gal, which she’s not. It was a strange time, and [the Frontiersman] came out very harshly against her.”
[Former mayor] Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving “full support” to the mayor.
Do we really need a book-burning creationist who thinks the Founding Fathers invented the Pledge of Allegiance anywhere near the seat of power?
Interestingly, the same questionnaire in which Sarah Palin revealed her belief that “If it [the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance] was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me,” she again echoed creationist talking points.
Asked “2. Will you support the right of parents to opt out their children from curricula, books, classes, or surveys, which parents consider privacy-invading or offensive to their religion or conscience?,” Palin replied: “Yes. Parents should have the ultimate control over what their children are taught.”
Creationists love those policies, and jump on them with enthusiasm. At NCSE, we consider those Opt-Out Policies so flawed as to call them OOPsies:
when it comes to OOPs specifically including evolution (OOPSIEs), the acronym illustrates our view: Because of the centrality of evolution to biology, such policies are a bad mistake. … Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity. A teacher who tries to present biology without mentioning evolution is like a director trying to produce Hamlet without casting the prince. By the same token (and to vary the play), a student who is opted out of evolution is likely to regard biology as a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Shakespeare aside, it is not only students who are opted out of evolution who suffer as a result of OOPSIEs. Accommodating such students is bound to be disruptive to the course as a whole; ironically, the better the treatment of evolution in the course, the worse the disruption. A student opting out of evolution in such a course would have to bob in and out of the classroom several times a month, disappearing, for example, when the structure of the cell is taught (and with it the endosymbiotic origin of mitochondria), and again when taxonomy is taught (and with it phylogenetic systematics), and yet again when genetics is taught (and with it molecular homology), and so on. It is simply unreasonable to expect a teacher to install a revolving door, as it were, to accommodate students who are unwilling to hear the dreaded e‑word.
Moreover, OOPSIEs are bad for schools and districts. Students who fail to learn about evolution are not going to perform as well on statewide examinations, which reflects poorly not only on them but also on their schools and districts. Nor are they going to perform as well in their biology classes in colleges and universities, where the faculty expects incoming students to have at least a basic grasp of evolution. Indeed, high school administrators often have to certify that the courses intended to prepare students for college in fact do so; allowing students to opt out of topics that are central to such classes may result in decertification. Schools and districts with OOPSIEs may also find it difficult to attract and retain those science teachers who take their professional responsibilities seriously: given a choice, who would prefer to teach biology at a school where the administrators are unwilling to support the teaching of evolution?
Then again, telling the library to ban books you don’t like is also a good way to lose staff, as is purging any employee who dares disagree with you:
[After winning the mayoralty, Palin] ended up dismissing almost all the city department heads who had been loyal to [former mayor] Stein, including a few who had been instrumental in getting her into politics to begin with. Some saw it as a betrayal.
And some see it as par for the course for the modern Republican party.