It may not surprise you to learn I am no fan of one Don McLeroy. He is a young-Earth creationist, antiscience evangelist, and when he was head of the Texas Board of Education he tried to ram through all sorts of ridiculous education standards that would’ve set Texas schoolchildren back about 200 years.
My own rule of not being a dick makes it difficult for me to express myself clearly about Mr. McLeroy, but happily he does the work for me. He appeared on The Colbert Report, and quite ably demonstrates what kind of person he is. And Colbert is only too happy to comply:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
[You may need to refresh this page to get the video to load.]
I love how Colbert says he chooses his own reality; he is mocking McLeroy to his face and McLeroy doesn’t really see it. But then, there’s a lot of things McLeroy doesn’t see.
By the way, the movie clip shown is from a documentary called The Revisionairies, which is all about the damage McLeroy and his cadre did while he ran the BOE. I wrote about this when the directors set up a Kickstarter account to help fund it — which was successful, obviously. From the trailer the documentary seems to be an unflattering look, to be sure, but that’s because it tells the truth. The reviews so far look good, and I’m hoping to be able to watch the whole thing myself… if I can stomach it.
I’m glad McLeroy’s no longer running the Texas BOE… but then, after he left, Governor Rick Perry (remember him?) appointed another staunch creationist to that role (after trying to appoint two others). I like Texas — I’ve been there many times, and even lived there for a summer a while back — but honestly, you guys really need to rethink your choices for politicians.
Clearly, the whole world is watching.
Over the past few years a majority of members of the Texas State Board of Education have done pretty much everything they can to destroy accurate standards of learning for Texas school children. They’ve been sabotaging science, history, and social studies, and doing a pretty thorough job of it.
At the helm for most of that time was Don McLeroy, an avowed young-Earth creationist who has been tireless in trying to insert his own narrow view of the world into the Texas textbooks. And this is no local problem; the books Texas chooses can affect other states as well.
I was contacted by Vijay Dewan, who is working on a documentary about this. He and his team have 200 hours of footage, and they’re looking for funding to get a good editor for it. To do this, they’ve got a Kick Starter campaign set up to raise the money to complete the documentary. They’ve put together a trailer video which you can see on the Kick Starter site, and you can watch here:
I for one would very much like to see it completed. They don’t need a whole lot of money to get to their goal, either; they’re already 75% of the way to their target of $10,000. So please help spread the word, and maybe the educational disaster that McLeroy and the Texas BoE created can have a light shone on it so that it can be seen by people all across this country.
Let’s get this straight right off the bat: young-Earth creationism is wrong. It’s the wrongiest wrongness in the history of wrongitude. We know for rock-solid fact the Earth and the Universe are billions of years old, not thousands. Also, it’s illegal — unconstitutional, even — to teach creationism as anything other than myth in public schools, since it’s religion.
So you just know that reading an op-ed from Don McLeroy — an evangelistic creationist who was (was, thank heavens) the head of the Texas State Board of Education — trying to defend and spin the BoE’s insertion of religion and far-right rhetoric into the state standards is going to be head-explodey.
And it is.
Mind you, this is the one and the same Texas BoE that has been fighting teaching kids about evolution tooth and nail, which downplayed the Big Bang theory, which took Thomas Jefferson out of the standards, which praised Joseph McCarthy, which screwed up the state standards so massively California issued a warning that it would be looking at what Texas is doing to textbooks very carefully. The very same BoE that had the gall to pass a resolution condemning textbooks they perceived as pro-Muslim while ramming fundamentalist religion into those same textbooks.
Ah, memories. I wrote a synopsis on all the damage this BoE has done, if your brain can stand it.
So anyway, reading McLeroy’s apologetics in the op-ed is astounding. Before he even starts, the nonsense and spin begins; the headline is "McLeroy: The State Board of Education’s standards should make Texans proud". Yeah.
OK, here’s a fun sample of what McLeroy says:
[This is an update to my previous post, Texas conservatives screw history, so you should read that first to get your blood to a rapid boil before reading this.]
The Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy — creationist, antireality promoter, and stander-upper to experts — was interviewed on ABC TV’s Nightline program. Give this a listen, just in case you were thinking of cutting him a break… for whatever reasons I cannot fathom.
Yes, how magnanimous of the rich white men to allow women the vote, or to give the blacks equal rights!
[If the video doesn't load for you, go to the Nightline web page and click on Thursday's listing of Texas Textbook controversy, which should be up for a few more days.]
I have been active on Twitter today mocking the new textbook standards, and a handful of people have taken me to task thinking I was mocking all Texans. That’s ridiculous; I am clearly ridiculing the ten people on the Board who rammed this revisionist nonsense through… though you may feel free to expand that to the people who support them.
And to the commenters on my original post and elsewhere defending McCarthy because there were in fact communists in America: shame on you. Seriously, shame on you. What McCarthy did — and yes, it was a witch hunt — was directly opposed to all the ideals of this nation: free speech, liberty, presumed innocence until proven guilty, and many more. He was only able to ferret out a handful of so-called communists, but even if he had been 100% successful in his efforts what he did was an abomination for anyone in this country, let alone a seated Senator in the United States Congress. He engendered fear and suspicion, a paranoia and chilling climate from which it took years to recover. He betrayed precisely what he claimed to be trying to protect, and will stand as an object lesson for future generations on what happens when our system fails so utterly.
That is, he’ll stand as that lesson for those who will listen. Clearly, some people didn’t. It’s a crying shame that this includes a majority of the Texas State Board of Education, because now it’s entirely likely the lesson will be missed by a decade’s worth of schoolchildren, too.
Tip o’ the ten gallon hat to Robert Luhn of the wonderful National Center for Science Education for the link to the ABC interview.
I recently posted that Don McLeroy, a Texas conservative creationist buffoon on the State School Board of Education, lost his re-election bid. That was good news, but I also warned that in his last months on the BoE, lots of damage could still be done.
Sometimes I hate being right.
In a 10-5 party line vote last week, the BoE rammed through a vast number of changes to the Texas state history standards, all of which conform to the über-far-right’s twisted view of reality. In these new standards, Hispanics are ignored, Black Panthers are added to provide balance to the kids learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and get this, Thomas Jefferson was removed*.
It’s insanity, pure and simple. The absolute and utter denial of reality generally is.
In typical McLeroy nutball fashion, he said:
"We are adding balance," said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."
"Balance". Feh. As Colbert once said, reality has a well-known liberal bias.
The problem here isn’t one of balance, it’s of revisionism. As one of the more reality-based members of the BoE said, "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world." As another example, the new history standards downplays and questions the separation of Church and State. And this was no accident by the religious zealots on the Board; when a more moderate Democrat tried to insert language about why the Establishment Clause was put in the Constitution, it was voted down by the Republicans.
There’s tons more. And there’s one that totally blows me away. I hope you’re ready for this — they added apologetics for the McCarthy hearings.
Yes, you read that right. They added to the standards that America was being infiltrated by Communists, and therefore McCarthy was right.
So, is Texas doomed? Well, I can hope that teachers across the state will see through this sort of revisionist garbage, but I also know that bucking the standards is very difficult for educators, especially when those standards guide how tests are made, both in the schools and in statewide standardized testing.
And even worse, Texas has such a huge school system that textbook publishers will base their books in large part on the Texas standards, and these books will then be sold in other states. So these handful of ultra-conservative rabid far-right lunatics will actually be affecting the way children are taught all over the country. That means my kid. Your kids. All of them.
Congratulations, Texas State Board of Education. And thanks for dragging the rest of us down with your insanity.
My thank to everyone who sent me links about this.
I am pleased to write that the creationist and generally anti-reality Don McLeroy has lost his bid for re-election to the Texas State Board of Education!
The man who ousted him is Thomas Ratliff, who is — gasp! — an actual educator who has vowed to try to remove the politicization of the board and also to actually – gasp again! — listen to educators when it comes to, y’know, educational topics. You may remember McLeroy is the goofball who infamously said, "Someone has to stand up to the experts!"
However, mitigating the good news somewhat are some things to consider:
1) McLeroy is still on the BoE for the next seven months before his term runs out. He can do a vast amount of damage to Texas schoolchildren’s education in that time.
2) Ratliff only won by a very narrow margin, meaning a whole lot of Texas citizens either didn’t know about McLeroy’s maniacal attempts at derailing the Lone Star State’s educational system, didn’t care, or actually supported him.
3) McLeroy and his crew of revisionist creationists have already done so much damage that it cannot be easily repaired. There is a cycle to the way standards and such are reviewed and updated in Texas, so it could be years before things are straightened out, if at all.
Still, this is good news, and so I won’t use the "Texas: Doomed" graphic. Instead, I’ll remind you not to rest:
Tip o’ the ten gallon hat to Robert Estes and the many other BABloggees who emailed me about this.