Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Condemnation for TEA Over Forced Resignation

The decision by the Texas Education Agency to force out its science curriculum director, Chris Comer, for sending an email suggesting that her colleagues attend a talk critical of intelligent design is still reverberating around the state and beyond.

Barbara Forrest, the author of the talk mentioned in Ms. Comer's email, has responded in a lengthy rebuttal condemning the TEA for its actions.

In forcing Chris Comer to resign as Texas Director of Science, the Texas Education Agency has confirmed in a most public, unfortunate way the central point of my Austin presentation, “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” the mere announcement of which TEA used as an excuse to terminate her: the intelligent design (ID) creationist movement is about politics, religion, and power. If anyone had any doubts about how mean-spirited ID politics is, this episode should erase them......

Ms. Martinez continued, “Thus, sending this e-mail compromises the agency’s role in the TEKS revision process by creating the perception that TEA has a biased position on a subject directly related to the science education TEKS.” But why would the TEA be concerned about being biased in favor of teaching children the truth about science? The TEA’s proper role is to ensure the quality and integrity of what is taught in Texas science classes. My Austin presentation was most certainly not a threat to that role, but in fact highly supportive of it. I presented the truth about ID as established by years of scholarly research. Has the process of administering the public education system in Texas become so politicized that even the truth is a threat to people’s jobs? One can only conclude that it has.

The full text of Dr. Forrest's letter is published here.

Meanwhile, Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star Telegram [link not found] notes the irony of the rationale given by the TEA in forcing Comer's resignation.
Those who believe in teaching creation as science often argue that both sides of a debate should be heard.

Yet when Christine Castillo Comer, a former science teacher, forwarded an e-mail announcing a public speech by creationism critic Barbara Forrest, suddenly that side no longer needed to be heard......

Kevin Fisher, the science coordinator for Lewisville schools, is a past president of Texas Science teachers.

"The most astonishing part of this is that the Texas Education Agency would want science classes to remain neutral between evolution, which is science, and creationism, which is religion," Fisher said. "I think everybody in Texas wants a 21st-century education for our children. Bringing creationism into the classroom is 15th-century education.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This entire episode is a travesty. The explanation given to Comer was that her forwarding of the email implied the TEA's endorsement of its content, even though the only think she wrote herself was "FYI."

I would encourage everyone involved in the TEA who is shocked by this to remember it, and to insist that the TEA treat any email forward by a religious group, political message, or creationist-related event with the same logic. If simply forwarding an email is the same as slapping the TEA's endorsement on it, then it is only fitting to apply the rule to these messages too.