Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Texas' Religious Right: Ideology vs. Knowledge



The Texas Freedom Network has released its latest report on the state of the religious right in Texas. (You can download a copy for yourself there.) The focus in this report is on the State Board of Education (SBOE). It charts the rise of the religious right on the SBOE over the past two decades, and its most recent gains in the 2006 election. Christian groups on the far right targeted moderate Republicans in the primaries, and now 7 of the 15 board members are of this very conservative faction. Last summer, Governor Perry appointed Don McLeroy to be the chair of the board. He is an outspoken creationist, and the first representative of this right-wing faction to chair the board.

The Board was in the news recently, because one of the agencies it oversees, the Texas Education Agency, 
fired its science curriculum director for forwarding an email.

Four members of this fundamentalist Christian coalition are up for re-election this fall: Terri Leo (District 6), David Bradley (District 7), Barbara Cargill (District 8), and Gail Lowe (District 14). This is a crucial time for the Board, as they will be reviewing Texas science curriculum standards this year.

It is clear that this group of board members is more concerned with ideological purity than they are with ensuring that students have the best knowledge available. They want to withhold accurate medical and scientific information from students regarding prevention of pregnancy and STDs, ignoring evidence that "abstinence-only" approaches do not work. They want to withhold a robust presentation of biological evolution from students by muddling the curriculum with dubious discussion of "weaknesses" of the theory. They are queasy about too many pictures of minorities, the term "married people," and discussions of environmental issues like pollution and conservation.

Many of these board members who have children send them to private schools or home school them. It's not enough for them to want to protect their children from the evils of science, toleration, and non-sectarianism. They want to impose their own theological vision of America on the public. At stake is a knowledge of the world our kids need to meet the challenges of their lives.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Behavior

The Blogger's Code of Conduct is a proposal by Tim O'Reilly for bloggers to enforce civility on their blogs by being civil themselves and moderating comments on their blog. The code was proposed due to threats made to blogger Kathy Sierra. The idea of the code was first reported by BBC News, who quoted O'Reilly saying, "I do think we need some code of conduct around what is acceptable behaviour, I would hope that it doesn't come through any kind of regulation it would come through self-regulation."
O'Reilly and others came up with a list of seven proposed ideas:
Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
Ignore the trolls.
Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Austin American-Statesman Endorses...


Austin American-Statesman Endorses...

John McCain for the Republicans

Barack Obama for the Democrats

Barack continues to rack up some impressive editorial endorsements (LA Times and Chicago Tribune, for example). It's debatable what they're worth, and I'm sure the Statesman's is low down on the list, but I just had to report what the hometown editorial board has decided:
Like a veteran slugger on deck, Hillary Clinton has campaigned principally on the logic that it is her turn at bat. Democrats must resist the instinct to select the next in line and grab instead the best hitter on the bench. That is Barack Obama.
On the subject of editorial board endorsements, it was interesting to see that the New York Times endorsed Hillary, and over the next several days the