Yesterday’s SBOE hearing on science curriculum

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Public Schools, SBOE District 10, Williamson County at 11:14 am by wcnews

Yesterday the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) held a hearing on new public school science curriculum standards, which is currently set to be finalized in March 2009. Here in SBOE District 10 we’ve become familiar with our current board member Cynthia Dunbar for some outrageous statements she made just before the election this month. We’ll see that she continued that streak by making and uninformed comment at the hearing yesterday. There are a couple of live blogs to point you to from yesterday as well as a wrap-up with several links to media reports from today. But first a picture:

The picture above is from a live blog yesterday Steve Schafersman of Evo.Sphere, Texas State Board of Education Realtime Blog Now in Progress. This post provides us with another of Dunbar’s comments.

Cynthia Dunbar said she didn’t think Galileo would have been peer-reviewed well by his fellow scientists, because he was persecuted by them. Paul corrected her, saying that Galileo was esteemed by his scientific peers and was persecuted by the religious authorities of the day. With this remark, an audience member applauded and was promptly ejected by Chairman Don McLeroy, who said in a very loud voice, “Sir, you may leave!” The fellow said “Thank you” and promptly left. I felt like joining him but I need to suffer a few more hours.

Tip goes to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for the above link who has that and so much more in this wrap up from yesterday’s hearing, Why do creationists duck the debate? The post includes media accounts from the DMN, HChron, and FWST.

Here’s the AAS’s account, Hearing on state school science standards rich in rhetoric:

Southern Methodist University anthropology professor Ronald Wetherington, a committee member who was nominated by board members Patricia Hardy and Geraldine Miller, said Wednesday that specifically requiring the teaching of theories’ strengths and weaknesses would be confusing.

Wetherington said simply requiring students to learn how to analyze and evaluate scientific theories covers the same ground. “The more words you use, the more confusing it can get,” he said.

Board member Cynthia Dunbar, whose district includes Bastrop and Williamson counties and part of Travis County, said the language might be helpful to teachers without advanced science educations.

“For those who might not have your training, it might give direction,” she said.

But Texas Citizens for Science President Steven Schafersman told the board that the “strength and weaknesses” language was unscientific and that most students don’t have the expertise to consider both strengths and weaknesses effectively.

“I suggest you let scientists write the (curriculum standards) properly and accept them,” he told the board.

Or as this pastor said in one of the five live blog posts from the Texas Freedom Networks blog (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V):

5:37 p.m. - The pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Shiner, TX just told the board to leave the religion to him and keep it out of the classroom. I think we can all raise a tall glass of Shiner Bock to that!

And that’s a good final word on this issue. Leave teaching religion to the religious leaders and churches, and teaching science to the scientists.

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