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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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  • Biology workbook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:19AM (#45986079)
    Shouldn't the opening of the Biology workbook alone be enough to get this squashed?
    • Re:Biology workbook (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:25AM (#45986143)

      There's a lot that should get this squashed. Unfortunately, the person whose job it is to do the squashing (Sen. Dan Patrick, chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee) has said that he believes in Creationism and is a fan of the program.

      • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:37PM (#45987311)

            That's a good quote!

            When these kids grow up, I wonder whether they would be able to get a job at NASA in Houston.

            Austronaut:Houston. We've got a problem!
            NASA: We are all praying for you. Better repent of your sins while you still have a time. It is God's hands now.

            :D

          • Re:Biology workbook (Score:5, Interesting)

            by sribe (304414) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:55PM (#45987621)

            There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been.

            Absolutely. Having been born and raised in the "Bible Belt" I can attest first-hand to how very proud some people are of their ignorance and lack of education.

            • Re:Biology workbook (Score:5, Informative)

              by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday January 17, 2014 @02:33PM (#45989207) Journal

              Yup. Also:

              "I never spent much time in school, but I've taught ladies plenty"
              -- The Fall Guy

              "Don't know much about history
              Don't know much biology
              Don't know much about science book
              Don't know much about the French I took

              But I do know that I love you
              And I know that if you love me too
              What a wonderful world this could be"
              --Sam Cooke

              The Woody Character in Cheers, the wise ignoramous who is shown as being smarter than Doctor Frasier Crane who is portrayed as an aloof buffoon.

              I could go on.

              Ignorance is revered in American culture. It's amazing how easy it is to spot when you start looking for it. It's like the loudly ticking clock that you didn't notice until someone pointed it out, but it's right there, hiding in plain sight.

        • Re:Biology workbook (Score:4, Informative)

          by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:51AM (#45986567)

          we decided what we believe is more important than what is

          Especially if what you believe is gleaned from your nightly newscast [ceasespin.org]. Far more people believe the TV than the Internet. The far-right has figured this out and is capitalizing on it at the polls.

        • 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 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.

      • Which makes no sense (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The understanding that Genesis is a metaphorical, and not literal, goes as far back as the 4th century (even further, possibly, that is just what am aware of explicitly from my early church history studies). Protestantism is very recent compared to that, and this protestant misinterpretation of scripture as being literal is more recent still.

        A bunch of relatively uneducated Christians cooked up this weird and grossly simplistic way of reading scripture, and it has become wildly popular, and gives the entir

      • Re:Biology workbook (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:53AM (#45986591)

        The issue that really should be brought up, debating the science vs. non-science it talking to a deaf ear...
        However I think the debate should go more towards the direction.
        These Major Christian churches, do not have an issue on evolution, and do not support teaching creationism in Science Classes. So why are you pushing your little minority sect of Christianity on the rest of the population.
        If you don't want separation of church and state, then realize your particular sect doesn't coincide with the general belief of the country.

        Oddly enough most members don't realize that their church actually supports real science.

      • by game kid (805301)

        We could probably replace Dan Patrick with Danica Patrick and still end up with a better system.

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          An interesting potential experiment: See if we could create a better "shadow Congress" by picking representatives at random from each congressional district and state. Yes, we'd have plenty of morons get in there, but I'd be hard-pressed to see how this kind of representation would do worse than our current elected officials.

          An interesting example of this: In New Hampshire, there are enough House seats that almost anyone can get in if they are a reasonably good campaigner and actually want to do the job (it

        • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 17, 2014 @01:00PM (#45987723)
          Replace him with Danica McKellar and we'd have an awesome system. :-p
      • 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.
    • Re:Biology workbook (Score:5, Interesting)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:26AM (#45986145) Homepage Journal

      Here's where the assholery of charter schools come into play. They can claim charter schools are "opt-in" as they budget money away from public schools and into charter schools. They think that claim will invalidate concern from the establishment clause as no one is "forced" to use religious books.

      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.

      I hope a federal court will see this as a violation of either the first amendment or Brown vs. Board of education, but I don't have a ton of faith in the judicial process these days.

      • Re:Biology workbook (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Maudib (223520) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:59AM (#45986681)

        Is this behavior really different then what goes on in Texas public schools? Of course not. We get the same sort of anti-science stuff from traditional public schools down there. The fact that this is a charter school isn't the problem. This is just a feature of Texas.

        Of course in places like NYC, we see charter schools dedicated to math and good science. Charter schools reflect a community's desire for education. Thats it.

    • 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".

    • always Republicans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <labolgnitsuj>> 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 oodaloop (1229816) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:24AM (#45986123)
    I'm fine with that. Teach that the vast overwhelming majority of the world's scientists support the theory of evolution by natural selection, a handful of people support intelligent design, and millions more support unintelligent design, the theory that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. (Disclaimer: I am an ordained Pastafarian Minister [venganza.org])
    • 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 oneandoneis2 (777721) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:50AM (#45986535) Homepage

      Absolutely, they should both be taught.

      Just teach them appropriately: Evolution gets taught in Science, creationism gets taught in Religious Studies with all the other myths & legends.

  • Not Just Texas (Score:5, Informative)

    by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:24AM (#45986129)
    These schools are also in Arkansas and Indiana.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:25AM (#45986137)

    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."

    It brings up a whole new connotation when they say "fuck the state"!

  • 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 fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:08PM (#45986807) Journal

      Those trillion dollar 'deficits' are also a distraction, to justify austerity. It's the quadrillion dollar derivatives markets that will destroy your economies. Your political elites are merely servant to Wall Street banking elites.

      • by khallow (566160)

        It's the quadrillion dollar derivatives markets

        It's nowhere near a quadrillion dollars. Notional amount != actual value. For example, I recently did a derivatives trade that had a notional amount of $13,000 and an actual value of $600 at the time of the trade.

        Your political elites are merely servant to Wall Street banking elites.

        Whatever. Just remember the banking elites are the ones who ask "how high?" when someone is told to jump. All the banking elites have is money. The political elites have power. That's a higher currency.

      • 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 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 Last_Available_Usern (756093) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:31AM (#45986233)
    Tornado touches down and vaporizes the Responsive Ed corporate headquaters. No hands were lost, but several people were struck by flying Stop signs.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 17, 2014 @01:25PM (#45988121) Homepage

      Reminds me of the day that a giant statue of Jesus was struck by lightning [roadsideamerica.com] and burned to the ground. And of course, the religious nutjobs immediately started raising money to rebuild it.

      What I should have done, but didn't, was figure out the frequency of the wireless mike the preacher almost certainly uses during his services, then secretly broadcast this message right after the pitch to donate to the replacement statue "DID YOU NOT GET THE MESSAGE THE FIRST TIME? I THOUGHT I WAS PRETTY CLEAR ABOUT IT!". The reaction of the congregation would probably have been priceless.

  • FSM! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SGDarkKnight (253157) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:41AM (#45986377)

    I wonder how hard it would be to get them to teach about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Hell, I would enroll in that class!

  • 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 Kimomaru (2579489) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:12PM (#45986883)
    How does Texas prepare students for Med School? Do they finally start teaching science when a student is in college or do they have to leave the state completely?
  • Debating the insane (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sdinfoserv (1793266) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:18PM (#45986991) Homepage
    I remember during one of the Bush 2 nationally televised debates; All of the Republican hopefuls were on stage and the question was asked “do you believe in evolution” – not a single one on stage raised their hand. It’s a sad state when the leader of the free world can’t have a foundation in science or critical thinking as a prerequisite to the job. There is not one single example in the history of mankind of a successful theocracy. The evidence tends to point to the exact opposite – the increase of religion leads to the downfall of any given society.
  • There is hope... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:32PM (#45987251)

    I'd like to point out a few things that might give some of y'all hope this year...

    * Open election November 2014. Perry is stepping down. State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is running and has a lot of momentum behind her on this! Yes, she's riding her 15 minutes, but that doesn't mean it won't work!
    * Texas Board of Education Commisioner is appointed by the Governor. The present Commisioner was former head of the Texas Railroad Comission ( what does that tell you???)
    * The Democratic party has grown considerably in last 2 decades, and with an open election on the plate, they are getting very good funding for this run.

    The Republicans in Texas have really done such a number on minorities and women that there is a very strong chance a Democrat, Davis, will win. If that happens, Texas Board of Ed. Commisioner is out! And THAT, is what gives me hope when it comes to the absurdity of creationism even being mentioned with science or in schools.

    What you have to understand though, is that the Dem's and Repub's are the same party as what's in the rest of the US, but they really aren't. Texas is it's own battle ground of a country. The parties are connected, but in a very different way. So much is in play in Texas, that D/R(TX) really does not equal D/R(any other state). They're similar, but far from the same.

  • by malkavian (9512) on Friday January 17, 2014 @01:01PM (#45987733) Homepage

    There's a historical analogy to all this going on: Until the rennaissance, the middle east was vastly more advanced than the West (it had medicine, mathematics and so on that just weren't known in the west until scholars studied there). Arabic was the language of trade, commerce and learning during the centuries of its pre-eminence as a cultural and scholarly center.
    People would come from all areas of the 'civilised world' (this didn't really include Europe at this point, apart from maybe Italy) to study.

    The problems arose with the ascendancy of a faction (Asharite) which was distinctly anti-rationalist. It gained increasing popularity over the Mutazilite faction (which had led the Islamic world to scientific ascendancy over centuries, epousing the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, and following in those traditions).
    As the power of the Asharites grew, scientific advancement in the middle east stagnated, and eventually it became a crime to copy philosophical texts, as they were an abhorrence in the eyes of God. These sins would eventually be punishable by executions, and the candle of scientific advancement was effectively snuffed out.

    Compare this to today. From England grew a large empire (comparable effectively with the Islamic Caliphate) crossing many countries, and being quite the center of learning. People came from all over to study in England. This Empire has been largely disbanded, but the strings of learning have still carried on beyond it.
    Over the last hundred years or so, the power and center of effective empire has shifted to America as the rationalist factions invested in learning, keeping church and state separate (as the founders would probably have been painfully aware of the problems of allowing them to merge), and ensuring minds could be kept open, and difficult questions asked.

    However, there's now a growing push towards anti-rationalism. It hides itself within the main power structure, and has permeated the political strata to a huge extent (I believe the parts of the national pledge that mention god were only included in the 50s or 60s, never having been present before then), and seems to be getting ever more powerful. Parts of the population (and I've met them on travels) consider it taboo to "Trust science" as it's all God's Will. Exactly analogous to the Asharite faction of a thousand years ago.
    We know what happens if that faction gains ascendancy. Scientific tradition fails, as being an intellectual makes you a threat to the religious theocrats, and they're very good at getting rid of threats, and making it 'acceptable', even desirable that these people are removed.
    Arabic ceased to be the language of trade and learning once the Asharites gained ascendancy and the Islamic world was in their grip. They were overtaken by the West, which had learned from their teaching earlier, and took on the torch passed to them by the Greeks even earlier.

    Nowadays, China is investing massively in education, and particularly science; their technological base has caught up with the Western World at a furious pace. This, quite possibly, is a saving grace; it means that there are definitely alternatives to keep learning alive, just in case the anti-rationalists that are gaining traction in America manage to topple it from within. It would likely mean that the language of trade and learning becomes Chinese, but hey, the world can survive that quite easily.
    I guess we see if history does indeed repeat itself, or whether humanity, as a species, has got any brighter since the last time this rise and fall happened.

  • 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.

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