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Education Science

Creationism In Texas Public Schools 770

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-one-could-accuse-them-of-evolving dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Slate reports on new anti-science education coming out of Texas. The state has a charter school system called Responsive Education Solutions, which is publicly funded. Unfortunately, 'it has been connected from its inception to the creationist movement and to far-right fundamentalists who seek to undermine the separation of church and state.' The biology workbook used in these schools actually reads, "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth." It also brings up social Darwinism as if it's an aspect of evolutionary theory and introduces doubt that the Earth is billions of years old. The article continues, 'To get around court rulings, Responsive Ed and other creationists resort to rhetoric about teaching "all sides" of "competing theories" and claiming that this approach promotes "critical thinking." In response to a question about whether Responsive Ed teaches creationism, its vice president of academic affairs, Rosalinda Gonzalez, told me that the curriculum "teaches evolution, noting, but not exploring, the existence of competing theories."' Other so-called education texts being used by the Responsive Ed program teach Western superiority and how feminism forced women to 'turn to the state as a surrogate husband.'"
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Creationism In Texas Public Schools

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  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:26AM (#45986151)

    It also brings up social Darwinism as if it's an aspect of evolutionary theory

    Actually, Social Darwinism is the one kind of Darwinism your typical Creationist is happy to believe whole-heartedly in. If you start believing the poor might not necessarily deserve to be poor, a whole lot of modern Republican politics suddenly starts to look very unchristian.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:30AM (#45986213)

    Why look at trillion dollar deficits that are destroying the economy, widespread graft and corruption in our political elites, or ongoing job losses in America when when can talk about the Westborough Baptist Church or a Hispanic stranger shooting a black stranger or a creationist school somewhere in Texas?

    Let's manufacture distractions to keep you from looking at the real issues...

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:31AM (#45986237) Homepage Journal

    At some point in recent American history, we decided what we believe is more important than what is.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:33AM (#45986259) Homepage Journal

    Maybe it's because we fire 10% of our engineers in a year, but claim there's a shortage. There's multiple things going on here in the U.S. but mostly we haven't come to terms with being a post-industrial society.

  • by ynoref (3297285) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:34AM (#45986267)

    The worst mistake that we can make is believe that we humans do know it all. We observe, we learn, we draw conclusions...repeat. We need to teach critical thinking and allow our youth to draw their own conclusions and learn to challenge everything they are taught.

    There are many theories on how the universe and life began. I for one have no issue being taught the top 5 theories where there are differing opinions, order the teachings randomly, but pass along who believes what and why they believe it. Allow the student to draw their own conclusions. They'll be stronger for it.

    I was taught in both public and private Christian schools. I have my own beliefs that differ from others, and that is fine. Do I believe Darwin's theory? Sure I do. Do I believe in the lessons in the Bible? Sure I do. Do I believe that we humans are infallible? Nah, and that extends into both science and religion, people were involved in the interpretation, teaching, and writing of both.

    Now for the binary solo. 0000001, 00000011 000000111, 00001111 0000001, 00000011 000000111, 00001111.

  • by theskipper (461997) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:34AM (#45986271)

    Yeah but we're talking about kids here, they aren't nuanced enough to recognize that. Plus they're getting bombarded with this nuttiness by their creationist parents every single day of their young lives, especially if home schooled. It's almost impossible for a 10 year old to see through the self-serving bullshit of it all. Rinse repeat as they grow up to be parents themselves.

    And of course it's a slippery slope. As mentioned a million times here when creationism stories pop up, they're obviously not theories, just wild hypothesis w/ absolutely no way to test. In no shape, form or fashion is creationism related to science. Full stop.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:39AM (#45986341)

    It's not a question of whether the science can withstand it, it's a question of whether the students will be properly educated. The science of combustion would survive a course that was split 50/50 between modern chemistry and phlogiston theory, but I don't think the children's usefulness as future scientists would escape the process intact.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:41AM (#45986379)

    It's not a "theories on how the universe and life began class", though, it's a "biology" class. If you want to teach kids ontology, then by all means advocate the creation of a class for that purpose, but don't try to craft one out of the existing and important lessons on the science of living things.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:41AM (#45986385)

    Troll. Creationism isn't falsifiable. Bam, done.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:43AM (#45986401)

    Creationism is not a scientific theory, and thus is also not a competing scientific theory. If you really think that 'science' cannot "withstand alternative theories", then you really don't know anything about science at all.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:45AM (#45986429)
    This story is not about textbook selection, but textbook selection is the primary viral decay effect that Texas has on national education, and it is very important.

    The problem with Texas textbook selection is that Texas buys its textbooks 4.8m at a time (which is a huge chunk of the textbook market). Publishers cannot afford to lose Texas as a customer, so you get "the walmart effect" - Texas censors national textbooks by approving the one they like, everyone else can pick from the one texas drove the price down on, or they can pay twice as much for a "marginally more correct" textbook. In this way, Texas can dictate the behavior of national (and even international, to an extent) textbooks, because Texas is giant, organized, and horribly corrupted by the religious reich err, right.

    The issue with pubically funded charter schools teaching bullshit mysticism instead of educating children is that charter schools are a convenient back door for this anti-science, conservative consortium to exert its corrupting influence on the texas education system. They are normalizing, perpetuating, and setting legal precident for further fucking over the entire United States education system.

    Please care about this. This is important. Our future depends on the nation collectively saying "WTF, Texas"
  • Bloody idiots ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:47AM (#45986459)

    This is why America is in decline.

    Because drooling morons and Luddites are being allowed to teach their nut-job theories on the same footing as actual science.

    America continues on the decline to voluntary ignorance, and this is little better than the Taliban -- a bunch of religious fundamentalists who can't accept reality as it exists, but wish to impose their beliefs on it and define it as true.

    Fuck you, fuck your god, fuck your stupid notions about how the world works, and fuck your creationism.

    That these people hold political office and somehow function in the real world astounds me.

    Because this level of stupidity should have caused you to be killed before surviving to adulthood.

    Fucking morons. The rest of the country suffers because you guys are fucking idiots.

  • by wayne_t (668999) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:47AM (#45986473)
    Reality is that which when you stop believing in it is still there.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:47AM (#45986481)

    "“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”"

    --Isaac Asimov

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:47AM (#45986485) Homepage Journal

    I think you're underestimating how much funding is being channeled away from public schools to fund charter schools, with the "dumping money on public schools doesn't solve problems, dumping money on charter schools does." initiative.

    It's actually the one thing that makes me leery of the Gates foundation, who normally does good work.

  • by swv3752 (187722) <swv3752.hotmail@com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:48AM (#45986497) Homepage Journal

    The right wingers are not really christian. Joseph Smith wrote some really nutty stuff, but the Church of LDS practices a far more christian faith than most bible thumpers.

    I find very depressing that I have more in common with Pastafarians, LDS, and Pagans than I do with my fellow christians.

  • by operagost (62405) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:50AM (#45986533) Homepage Journal

    Meanwhile, if you want to go to a school with any budget for things like teachers, the charter schools will be the only remaining option.

    Nope, sorry, it's still a failure of government. If our public schools weren't so terrible, there would be no need for charter schools. Charter schools that use bad books are just as bad as public schools that use bad books. Public schools keep failing, yet somehow we don't ever propose abolishing them.

  • by Whorhay (1319089) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:53AM (#45986601)

    Charter Schools are typically funded via public money. So while they are not public in that they can pick and choose who they let in, they are public in the sense that they are publicly funded.

    To me this is a clear violation of the seperation of church and state. If these were private schools it would be completely different, but charter schools are not private schools.

  • by dmatos (232892) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:56AM (#45986635)

    Scientific Theory: Something that describes the current state of the world in a way that makes testable predictions about the future. Useful in furthering our knowledge. Should be taught in science classes.

    Colloquial "Theory": Any explanation that potentially describes the current state of the world. Not testable. Makes no predictions about the future. Potentially useful in exploring moral or ethical quandaries. Should be taught in philosophy classes.

    Please learn the difference. Teach creationism if you want, I don't give a rat's ass. But don't teach it in a science classroom. It is not science. It never will be science.

  • by claar (126368) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:00PM (#45986689)

    Shouldn't the opening of the Biology workbook alone be enough to get this squashed?

    Who knows that it actually says in the context. You certainly can't expect Slate to be forthcoming when it's trying to incite the masses.

    It might say, "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth" is the first sentence of the Bible. In the section below, explain why you do or do not consider this to be a valid theory for how life came to Earth".

  • Re:WTF do I care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:00PM (#45986691) Homepage Journal

    Because you have to live in country where someone who believes Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs will have the same say in the running of the country as you?

    It's a good question, though. I never thought about the reason plutocracy has made common cause with religious fundamentalism before, but it's apparent that's because science is more difficult to co-opt than public opinion. A world where science is demoted to "just another opinion" looks like level playing field, but it's not, because it forces science to debate on religions terms, namely emotional appeal rather than evidence.

  • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:01PM (#45986711)
    I don't believe that is exclusively an American problem.
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:02PM (#45986715) Homepage Journal

    On topic: What's wrong with American Christians?

    In a word? Capitalism.

    Now granted, not all American Christians have these problems you complain about. But there is a fair contingent who apparently believe that so long as they spend their "hour with Jesus" a week, and drop a few bucks in the Salvation Army bucket once in a while, they can live their lives as total pieces of shit and still be given some sort of eternal reward. That said, I hardly think blind religious fervor is a strictly American disease. Just look at Russia's attitude towards homosexuals.

    Sidebar: Do mega-churches and evangelism not exist outside US borders?

  • by erikkemperman (252014) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:13PM (#45986893)

    I don't believe that is exclusively an American problem.

    Hate to break it to you, but when it comes to religious extremism the USA is right up there with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:13PM (#45986901)
    I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household, and while it took a while to shake off the emotional baggage associated with such an upbringing, I am now a productive member of society and opponent of creationism being taught on the tax payer's dollar. While one's beliefs are likely to be influenced by their parents', each individual still has the ability to form their own belief system, and I chose science and reason.
  • by ImOuttaHere (2996813) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:14PM (#45986923)

    At some point in recent American history, we decided what we believe is more important than what is.

    I'd put it this way: American's beliefs blind them to reality.

    There's a study that shows that when confronted with reality, most Americans cling stronger to what they believe. Very few look at the evidence of truth and modify their framework of beliefs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:15PM (#45986949)

    Hmmm... As I understand biblical theology, all humans deserve to go to hell, but some are given grace to go elsewhere(depending on your theology this may involve a choice). I suppose a departure from the sacred book is in keeping with the times.

    On topic: What's wrong with American Christians? The ones outside America I know are so much more sane.

    From the lips of Nazarene him self:
    ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

    Luke 15:3-7

    In other words: whether or not you get into heaven is, according to the bible, entirely up to you. Caveat: I'm a a complete atheist but claiming that a ticket to heaven is reserved for a few chosen ones is just not true (well, at least not according to Jesus). There have many fire-and-brimstone preachers over the centuries who have claimed otherwise but from what I was taught about christianity (by a protestant priest), the word of Jesus takes precedent over any crackpot interpretations of scripture that some some bozo of a preacher cooks up.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:27PM (#45987165) Homepage Journal
    From what I understand, for a lot of the proponents of Creationism it isn't so much that they think it's good science, but they believe that Evolution undermines religion and without religion the world would descend into hedonistic anarchy that would destroy all of civilization. Therefore the only moral thing to do is push Creationism at every turn to save the human race. They're literally doing God's work. That's why talk about the science is so ineffective, the science doesn't even matter to them, it's all about preserving life as they know it.
  • by ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:28PM (#45987183)
    Funding or otherwise supporting a religion is understood to fall under the establishment clause. So when you fund something, or let it use your property, or otherwise enable it you are establishing it. The issues with this particular school is that it is publicly funded. There are many, many private, religious schools out there that teach all kinds of viewpoints including creationism that comply with one or more religious traditions. These are not in question, it is only the ones being funded by the government that are being looked at askance. If you choose to go against any number of supreme court decisions and take a very narrow view of the meaning of the word establishment to be a strict synonym with found or start it would allow the government to effectively promote a state religion by sending it unlimited funds. BTW, when you are reading about similar issues you will see the 'establishment clause' referenced. This is what they are talking about, saying that whatever the government is doing is supporting, funding, or otherwise establishing a religion in violation of the constitution.
  • by fliptout (9217) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:31PM (#45987231) Homepage

    That's called cognitive dissonance, and it's not restricted to Americans.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:35PM (#45987283) Homepage Journal
    Far too many "financial instruments" are just playing games with numbers to give the people who run them huge bonuses. They're not too different from Ponzi schemes, but we're way too invested in them now to go cold turkey, and you can't even unwind them without getting accused of destroying value. Plus, the people in charge have no incentive to stop their own gravy train. I think a global financial catastrophe is bordering on inevitable now, it's just a matter of how long the middle class can be squeezed to prop up the system.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:39PM (#45987335)
    Of course it's falsifiable. If we saw new species being created that were genetically quite unlike anything else we've every seen, that would falsify the idea that new species gradually evolve. But whenever we observe the changes between generations of organisms, we find that there are a relative handful of mutations which appear to be random, as the theory of evolution predicts.
  • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:41PM (#45987365)

    Schools are generally representative of the neighborhoods they serve.

    Shitty neighborhoods have shitty schools.
    Good neighborhoods have good schools.

    When you hear horror stories about uncaring teachers and students being barely babysat until they get their state minimum hours, you're generally in a terrible neighborhood with a culture of not caring either...

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:43PM (#45987407)
    Nowhere even in the same universe. [youtube.com]

    But thanks for the blind, knee-jerk anti-Americanism, it was clearly good for some cheap moddings-up.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:46PM (#45987461)

    Why debate trillion dollar deficits when the human race doesn't have a plan to escape the solar system before the sun ends its lifespan? Do you see how dumb that "we should focus on my preferred, bigger issue" trope is?

  • by Golddess (1361003) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:50PM (#45987525)

    I said that creationism in texas public schools is the will of the people, and if you truly believe in the philosophy of "representative" government, then you will accept that government is working exactly as planned.

    So if I came in and started pushing schools to teach the Pastafarian creation myth, and I managed to get enough people backing me such that we represented the majority of the nation, you would be completely ok with that? Because it seems to me that that would be a gross violation of everyone elses First Amendment rights. But that is exactly what is happening here, just with a different creation myth.

    Opposing the violation of certain fundamental rights is not "I gladly accept the will of the people, as long as I'm on the winning team".

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:51PM (#45987539)
    I'm sorry, I'm having trouble hearing you over the screams of all the Saudi women beheaded for no reason in the last decade. Well, I guess there were reasons, really good ones like, being a witch, or doing things not approved of by their male owners, I mean "husbands" and "fathers". Hell, they're allowed pretty much to do it themselves without repercussion and save the state the time and trouble of a show trial where they can read the Quran to justify to everybody why they should slice women up for attempting to live their lives. How dare they. And America is totally worse than that.

    You're a delusional asswipe.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:51PM (#45987547)

    At some point in recent American history, we decided what we believe is more important than what is.

    "Recent American history"? That has always been default mode for 95%+ of people everywhere. It used to be much, *much* worse.

  • by quetwo (1203948) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:54PM (#45987597) Homepage

    Because when these people graduate, they become our peers in society. They become the people on your jury, they become the people that vote in our elections, and they become the people who end up brainwashing the rest of society.

  • always Republicans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal&gmail,com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:55PM (#45987615) Homepage Journal

    who do this shit!

    It's important to note that right now in US politics one party is completely and totally against the concept of scientific inquiry putting Newspeak-like religious rhetoric above all else.

    There is no 'but the Democrats...' counterpoint on this...it's ALWAYS REPUBLICANS. It doesn't make the Democrat/Liberals better in some long-term philosophical way at all, but it forces a choice in a real-world context that alot of /.'ers can't mentally make.

    I can't stress how important it is when placing blame to see past false dichotomies & historicity filled narratives to understand what these people who run our country *actually do*...and when you look it that way, the GOP are the enemy of society.

    As someone pointed out below, the Texas system has a check/balance against this, but AGAIN, the person in that decision node is a REPUBLICAN and they do not operate as individual decision makers weighing options.

    The GOP is a cadre of ignorance, working in rabid lockstep to kiss up to whatever money interest is telling them to on any particular day...this time its the religious conservatives anti-science people.

    It's ok to just blame one party when they are truly at fault. Decide they are at fault and vote appropriately. The US system has been corrupted but the prinicples of it are sound if we **use** our democracy to it's full power.

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:57PM (#45987643)
    What kind of government have you given us?

    A republic, sir, if you can keep it.

    This is not a mob rule democracy. We have a Constitution for a reason. Minorities do have value in this country, and we should all fight to keep it so, because we are all in one way or another a minority, whether by race, creed, or just in our simple individuality.

    A wrong thing believed by most is not made right by its popularity.
  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 17, 2014 @01:40PM (#45988317)
    I'm as secular as the next atheist, but it's ludicrous to call state-authorized murder on religious grounds as in the "same ballpark" as some allusions to theism in some textbooks. They're both bad things, but to pretend that they're the same degree of bad is delusional to the point where it would make one certifiable.
  • by morgauxo (974071) on Friday January 17, 2014 @01:52PM (#45988539)

    "Rather risky, though. You're taking someone else's word for what was actually written, and the Church often had its own agenda."

    Makes you wonder who taught them to think that way in the first place doesn't it?

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Friday January 17, 2014 @02:57PM (#45989549)
    The King James Bible says the earth is a circular disc held up by pillars. There is water below and above the earth but the water above is separated by a dome called the firmament. The sun, moon and stars are decorations on the inside surface of the firmament. Basically, the Earth is a giant snowglobe. Some Christian fundies actually believe it.
  • by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Friday January 17, 2014 @03:54PM (#45990303)
    >realize that very close to half of the country is not in lock-step with social liberalism.

    Yes, we have a ton of ignorant social conservatives in poorer, less educated parts of the country, and they do stupid things like claiming that feminism has caused greater dependence on public welfare, while glossing over the alternative of women staying with terrible men who dominate and abuse them.

    I don't think we should ever let these stupid, superstitious people take the lead again. Awful, constantly lying, religious authoritarians are finally being marginalized after a terrible history of letting them get their way.
  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Friday January 17, 2014 @03:56PM (#45990341)
    If they want to teach creationism in science class, there should also be a requirement to teach 'alternative' religions in their churches. Just imagine how rabid they'd get if we required their Sunday schools to include Islam and Hinduism... would be totally worth it since it would reveal these people for what they are - violent, bigoted assholes.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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