Well, it's truly official: Texas is doomed.
Why? I've talked before about the guy that's the head of the State Board of Education. His name is Don McLeroy, and he's perhaps the least qualified guy on the planet to head a BoE. He's a creationist. He thinks science is evil. The list of his disqualifications to be in charge of a BoE would be so big... well, it would be Texas-sized big.
I predicted nothing but doom and shame for the BoE this year, and it brings me no joy at all to say I was right. McLeroy's latest antic -- though I would call it the first shot fired in a war, a war on reality -- was over, of all things, the English standards. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, teachers and experts had worked for two and a half to three years on new standards for English. So what did McLeroy do? He ignored all that work entirely, and let "social conservatives" on the board draft a new set overnight.
Overnight? Think that's better than Standards teachers and experts spent nearly three years on?
This new version cobbled together in a few hours was delivered to Board members an hour before the meeting in which they were to vote on it. An hour! In the meeting, McLeroy rammed through the discussion, even dismissing people who claimed he was going too quickly:
"Mr. Chair you're going so fast ... you're moving so fast we can't find it in the other document," [board member Mary Helen] Berlanga said, shortly after the page-by-page explanation began.
After more complaints, McLeroy declared that he would continue at the fast pace.
"The ruling is you're being dilatory in dragging this out," McLeroy said.
What a guy! And now guess how this ends...
The board voted to approve the hastily cobbled-together standards, 9-6.
And if you're not tired of guessing, then guess what discipline comes up next for review? Science!
We know where McLeroy stands there. Texas is actually and seriously looking down a cliff of educational repression that will doom the children there for the next decade. I really can't be more serious about this. If I were a parent of a young child in Texas right now, I'd move out rather than let her be educated there.
FYI, McLeroy was appointed to his position by Texas Governor Perry, who apparently agrees with many if not all of McLeroy's positions. Mary Helen Berlanga -- the board member quoted above -- wrote a letter to Perry complaining vociferously and specifically about McLeroy. As described in her letter, incredibly, when McLeroy invited experts to testify before the board on the English standards, he didn't invite anyone with expertise in teaching Hispanic children, yet they make up a huge 47% portion of the populace of school children.
I remind you, science is next on their chopping block, and McLeroy is a vocal and adamant anti-intellectual. He admits on his own page he is not a professional educator... but he is the head of the State Board of Education.
I have no clue if it's too late to save Texas or not. I strongly urge anyone reading this who lives in Texas to write to Perry, to McLeroy, and to Berlanga (she could use the support) letting them know what you think. In fact, if I lived in Texas, I would ask for the immediate resignation of McLeroy, or demand Perry to remove him.
And I remind you as well that Texas is a major force in determining curricula and textbook sales for the rest of this country. This can affect all of us. All of us.
I certainly hope it's not too late to reverse this damage being done to the educational system in Texas. If not, then we may all be doomed.
[Added after the draft of this was written: PZ has written on this as well.]
My thanks to BABloggee John Kingman for bringing this to my attention.