You can listen along with me at: http://at1.tea.state.tx.us/sboeaudio
As before, board comments are in blue.
Rose Banzhas, speaking for herself but also an environmental educator: Environmental education matters. As an outdoor educator, I know this matters.
McLeroy keeps asking people if they’re here on their own dime or on business. Dunno why.
Loresa Loftin, Science Teachers Association of Texas: More space science. “Man has walked on the sun”?
Various chatter, nothing very exciting, mostly with Cargill. McLeroy is trying to keep things moving.
Helen Holdsworth, Texas Wildlife Association: Importance of open space, how to we make these decisions? Teach them about natural resources, including wildlife, wild space, clean air, clean water. Will help with critical thinking skills.
She’s right, not that this board is likely to care. The conservatives don’t care, and, truth be told, other board members care more about making a quick buck than about education, let alone wild spaces.
Lorna Shepherd, speaking for 54 middle school science teachers: More disciplined approach, please.
She keeps running off while the questions come in.
Board member’s phone rings, despite numerous warnings to silence them.
Royal Smith, ancient psychologist with a PhD from UNT: In favor of “intelligence.” Wants S&W. Has a PhD. Science differentiates random chance from intention. S&W not for creationism. Wants intelligence in, thinks S&W opens that door. Quotes Darwin on “numerous small changes.” Cells are fancy. No evidence for common descent. Then he quotes Behe. Quotes Einstein. “Now is the time for applied intelligence.” Abandoning S&W
McLeroy: Are you here on your own dime? I haven’t worked in so long I forgot what it’s all about?
Mercer: Is there anything good about macroevolution? No. Is the fight about whether we have a primate ancestor? Microevolution is measurable, no dispute. Macroevolution has no support at all, ever. Common primate ancestor asked again. 98% of chimp genes in people, but that won’t get you child support.
Terri Leo: Darwin? Does NRC support S&W? Will this really hurt us? He appreciates the dozen questions. Thinks intelligence will promote critical thinking, and S&W “essential” to generate hypotheses that generate scientific investigation.
Knight: What’s wrong with removing S&W? “Dogmatic evolutionist” leaves out weaknesses, thus turning out dogmatic students. “Darwin industry” obscures the “mediocre, middlebrow science” being taught.
Cargill: Are gaps in fossil record a weakness of evolution? Fossil record is an “indelible fact,” but no evidence of new species.
Cargill: Do you agree that “These gaps do not indicate weakness in the theory of evolution itself. Rather, they point out uncertainties in our understanding of exactly how some species evolved”? No.
Dunbar: Are they redundant? No.
Angela Weissgarber, parent of 3 college kids: Kids like biology. Teachers denied students a chance to learn weaknesses.
Agosto wanders out again.
Weissgarber: “Open hostility to any questions in the evolution unit.” Should encourage questioning. Open and objective discussion to encourage critical thinking. This is what the new TEKS would do. “Smacks of ideologies that are not American.” Please ensure that S&W remains in TEKS.
Note that AP biology, which she’s talking about, aren’t under the control of TEKS.
Hardy: Did you talk to the teachers? No, because we thought they’d punish. Did you report to the principal? No.
Knight: S&W is in TEKS now, right? Yeah. So this is about your school system, not the TEKS? I guess, but … something about silencing something.
Dunbar: What do you think will happen if we remove S&W? Nothing, since they’re already doing this.
Then who cares?
Mercer: Question unclear, but trying to claim this is a big problem. She agrees, thinks teachers are afraid to approach subject of weaknesses. ZOMFG, grades are important and we didn’t say anything because of that.
Mercer: Would that hurt your ability to be doctors? No. Do you believe in freedom of speech, academic freedom? Yeah.
Leo: What textbook? Dunno. Did publisher omit “weaknesses”? It is.
So, again, who cares?
Knight: Is this a local control issue? Dunno. Talked to a board member a while back.
McLeroy: Did you take off work? Yes.
David Bradley: I wanted to bring Ben Stein.
Ben Stein is a jackass.
Mercer: Is there intimidation of students who want to raise weaknesses? “Students were ridiculed” for raising creationism.
This is not what she originally said, she’s escalating her story.
Hardy: Why didn’t you follow up with the district? Teacher is excellent. Hardy: I’m confused.
Arthur Dickerson, actuary: Was a good science student 50 years ago. “Until all details of evolution are scientifically proved,” we should teach S&W. Too many assumptions, extrapolations. Three big problems. Lack of observable evidence. Extrapolations. “The obvious”: inability to observe the past. Quotemines Darwin. “Leap of faith,” where did the water come from. Mt. St. Helens disproves an old earth.
McLeroy: Did you take off work? Yes.
Dunbar: Does S&W prevents teaching of faith in class? Yes, shows pros and cons.
I think this is the evolution == faith gambit.
Knight: Can students question like Darwin did w/o S&W? “No, I don’t think that would be prudent.” Could students themselves ask questions without S&W? I guess, but it could be “potentially damaging.”
McLeroy: Darwin had a whole chapter on potential problems.
Leo: How much do we know about DNA now? Dude is not a scientist, he doesn’t know. It’s like the lack of transitional fossils? Do people who “subscribe to Darwinism” explain the origin of DNA? There’s not a lot of evidence. Actually: Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins by Robert Hazen. “Would you not agree with me that that’s what makes science fun?” Exploration is fun. Taking out S&W is intellectually damaging.
Disco. threw a presser, and no one attended. Casey nattered to one reporter for a while.
Mercer: Microevolution is OK? No one with a thinking brain disagrees with natural selection. Common descent with primates? Yeah, OK. Piltdown man? “A lot of Darwinism being taught is a hoax. May be the greatest hoax.”
Arturo De Lozanne, UT prof. cell biology, parent: Quotes GOBAMA!, “restore science to its rightful place.” New TEKS rock. Scientists aren’t afraid to present evidence, but won’t present pseudoscience. “Some of the arguments brought up at November meeting and this morning are just that.”
Craig asks something. De Lozanne sez there’s no limitations on students.
Hardy: Macroevolution sucks, right? Not so much. This is not the right forum, but there’s a lot of information out there and I’d be happy to talk more.
Knight: What’s pseudoscience and what’s your view of S&W vs. new language? S&W sounds reasonable but can be used to introduce textbooks that suck. S&W served fin for a while, but we need “a more modern view of science.”
Let the word go forth! Arturo De Lozanne rawks.
Dunbar: Don’t you know that AFT sez our standards are good? Not quite, but I know how we decide admission at UT.
Note also that Texas got an F from the Lerner report.
Dunbar: You know we’re just retaining extant language? I worry that it could. Would allow adoption of Disco. textbooks, which sucks hard. “Full of errors and misconceptions.” That could result in litigation. Questions about statutory construction. “I realize we’re not dealing with statutes.” He replies that it’s not an issue, since the new language does good things without opening doors to crappy nonsense.
10:21 Cargill: Don’t slam door on students. Is there an example of pseudoscience? Explore Evolution misstates how DNA traces common descent. Does science have all the answers? No, I wouldn’t be a scientist if it did.
McLeroy: Are you aware that Leshner sez S&W isn’t so bad?
Mercer: Admissions question, if student rejects common descent, is he unqualified? We don’t look at beliefs, look at student understanding. Student must be able to integrate knowledge, and evolution is essential to that.
Knight: Diff. between origins of life and evolution? Yes and no. Origins of life is a separate issue, but there’s a connection. Knight: So once life started, then evolution started. So evolution isn’t meant to explain origins of life? Right.
Leo: Have we been doing pseudoscience for 20 years? Haven’t been shitty books like EE in the last 20 years, so the situation’s different now. Standard doesn’t require pseudoscience, but opens the door to it.
10 minute break.