Monday, January 4, 2010

Texas Textbook Writers Keeping Unreason in Schools.

I'm reading Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason right now and this issue is one that she raises as the greatest contribution to our American anti-intellectualism: education has failed to promote critical thinking and science; there is a regional, fundamental bias to education that keeps children from learning the difference between scientific fact and faith; the rise of religious schools (both Catholic and fundamentalist) is a travesty for our future advancement as a country.

Now an article at the Washington Monthly by Miriah Blake that should be distributed far and wide. In direct violation of the separation of church and state (which amazingly is still a debated issue! easy to deny facts when your ideology doesn't require any!) these boards impose religious concepts on the nation and leave American intellectual achievement behind.

(h/t @GregMitch)

Photo: Jana Birchum

Don McLeroy is a balding, paunchy man with a thick broom-handle mustache who lives in a rambling two-story brick home in a suburb near Bryan, Texas. When he greeted me at the door one evening last October, he was clutching a thin paperback with the skeleton of a seahorse on its cover, a primer on natural selection penned by famed evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr. We sat down at his dining table, which was piled high with three-ring binders, and his wife, Nancy, brought us ice water in cut-crystal glasses with matching coasters. Then McLeroy cracked the book open. The margins were littered with stars, exclamation points, and hundreds of yellow Post-its that were brimming with notes scrawled in a microscopic hand. With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in Darwin’s theory. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history. “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principals. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

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