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Texas educator sues over job loss and creationism

Published online 9 July 2008 | Nature 454, 150 (2008)

A former Texas official is suing the state’s education agency, saying that its policies passively endorse creationism.

In a complaint filed with a district court on 1 July, Christina Comer, a former director of state science education, alleged that officials tacitly condone the teaching of creationism through a policy of neutrality. Comer oversaw Texas’s science curriculum until last November, when she was forced to resign for circulating a notice of a talk entitled “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse”. In her termination notice, Comer was told that the education agency endeavoured to “remain neutral” on the issue of creationism.

Comer’s complaint argues that board neutrality violates the separation of church and state. She is also seeking reinstatement to her former position. (emphasis mine)

What the…?

Read more…

Here is their own version of Expelled:

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16 Responses to Texas educator sues over job loss and creationism

  1. Comer’s complaint argues that board neutrality violates the separation of church and state.

    Ohh! So being neutral is teaching creationism? I get it!

    What she probably means is:

    The evidence for design is so overwhekming that if we don’t indoctrinate the kids with unguided evolutionism [Darwinism], they’ll reject evolution and embrace creationism!!!”

  2. 2

    Mats said,

    Ohh! So being neutral is teaching creationism? I get it!

    No, you don’t get it. Being neutral is being neutral on issues that are topics of upcoming public hearings. Here is the way I described it on the naturenews website:

    Comer’s former employer, the Texas Education Agency, has a policy of neutrality towards issues that are topics of upcoming public hearings. One of those issues is whether and how to include criticisms of evolution in the state science curriculum. Comer used her TEA email account to forward an announcement of the lecture “Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” The lecture is a bigoted one-sided presentation of a conspiracy theory that advocates of Intelligent Design are conspiring to turn the USA into a theocracy. TEA’s neutrality policy does not violate the so-called separation of church and state. The Endorsement Test frequently used by the courts prohibits the government from showing either endorsement of religion or disapproval of religion. The lecture “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” expresses disapproval of religion.

    The TEA regarded Chris Comer as a loose cannon, so they decided to get rid of her.

  3. Comer appears to be hispanic. She looks hispanic but when I heard her speaking that removed any lingering doubt. She’s got an accent identical to my sister-in-law who, coincidently, has a master’s degree in education and teaches in a Texas public school. English is her first language but Spanish is a close second and since she teaches in a predominantly hispanic school where she has to speak Spanish a lot – well, there’s an unmistakable accent that goes along with that.

    This can’t be going over well with her family, especially the older members, who are undoutedly all Catholic with deeply rooted belief in God. I should know that culture as I’ve been married to a hispanic woman in the same town as Comer for 30 years.

    The group she was shilling for, CFI-Austin, is a bunch of punk-ass obnoxious anglos (every last one of them is white and I accused them of being a racist organization when I discovered there wasn’t a single brown face in the whole lot of them) with chips on their shoulders. Comer has either lost her mind or her heritage shilling for those racist flaming anti-God crusading asshats.

  4. I think the video shows pretty clearly that Comer has imbibed the kool-aid and swallowed the “ID=creationism” meme. It’s great evidence that she forwarded the workshop announcement not just “for informational purposes” but because it supported her own biases about the issues she was obliged to remain officially neutral about.

    Good call by the TEA, I’d say. (Shoulda stuck with that instead of kool-aid :-)

  5. As I’m reading commentary all over the web on this the evo-libs are really fond of calling Texas a backward state.

    Oh really. Texas has the second largest economy of any state in the Union although unlike the biggest one, California, Texas has a balanced budget and an annual surplus while California’s economy is imploding.

    In Austin we have the single largest university campus in the nation, one of the eight “Public Ivy” schools (Ivy League quality education with a public university tuition). In 2007 it was ranked #6 in the nation among all research universities.

    As far as primary and secondary schools Texas is an overachiever there too. In the latest year, of 250 U.S. K-12 schools awarded national blue ribbons for excellence, 24 of those schools are in the state of Texas. It has 10% of the blue ribbon schools and 8% of the U.S. population.

    New York State, on the other hand, a bastion of liberal democrats, has 16 blue ribbon K-12 schools. It has 6% of the population and 6% of the blue ribbon schools. Ouch. Shouldn’t so-called blue states be above the national average in K-12 education instead of just at par? What’s up with that?

    The bottom line for education in Texas (and really everything else about Texas) is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  6. The bottom line for education in Texas (and really everything else about Texas) is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

    So, I presume then you’ll oppose any efforts to change how science is taught in Texas?

  7. JUST FOR FUN – I found this on the link provided for the article (read more) – “James, One should not confuse creation (the big bang) with evolution. There is more scientific evidence for evolution than for many scientific theories such as the theory of gravity. What is interesting is that the religious right which challenges the teaching of evolution in our schools (let’s teach the controversy), never seems to want to teach the controversy about gravity or many other scientific theories (as has been pointed out by others – this would require an enormous textbook). Of course that may be because gravity doesn’t seem to challenge any religious dogma.” – and he was serious – OH WELL.

  8. It seems to me that promoting the intellectually dishonest “ID = creationism” position clearly goes beyond neutrality. It would be interesting to know if Ms. Comer would have promoted a Mike Behe talk as well, but I think the answer is obvious – no way.

    Basically, if the argument is based on Genesis, call it creationism. If not, be honest enough to deal with the substance of the argument, not try to avoid the whole thing by name-calling. Barbara Forrest’s stance is an intellectual cop-out.

  9. Alan

    James should not confuse descent with modification with the mechanism(s) responsible for the modification.

    Intelligent Design neither confirms nor disputes common descent. It disputes the claim that unintelligent causes are solely responsible for the origin and diversification of life.

  10. I remember seeing that video and wondered when Darwinists would invent a PR campaign. Their video on the eye was a lot sadder in my opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOtP7HEuDYA

    Aside from the fact that simpler sets of eyes cannot in principle establish that it evolved, they also have yet to explain where the black box came from: that first light-sensitive cell.

  11. specs

    Texas was doing just great before biology textbooks with evolution in them were approved for the first time in 2003. I consider that a “fix” for something that probably wasn’t broken. The matter is coming up for review before the public. Unless it can be shown there was some kind of net gain made from it in the way of higher science scores, higher college enrollment rates, lowered cost of education, higher graduation rates, and things of that nature to offset the harm caused by upsetting evangelicals who pulled their kids out of public schools to home school them then I expect evolution to be dropped out once again. I think it’s a waste of time anyhow. No one needs to know more about evolution than the microevolution which accounts for bacterial and viral drug resistance. It doesn’t matter one tiny bit in any practical way whether birds were created 6000 years ago or descended from dinosaurs millions of years ago. If either of those concepts offends people then just drop them both out of public education and no one will be the poorer for it. I’d rather time spent teaching my kids anyone’s theory of evolution, purposeful creation or chance mutation, was used instead to teach them basket weaving. Basket weaving, unlike theories of macroevolution, at least might be applied as a pleasant useful hobby for making holiday decorations & such. ToE (anyone’s) is just completely and utterly useless.

  12. Texas was doing just great before biology textbooks with evolution in them were approved for the first time in 2003.

    Ah, okay. Darn that old Rick Perry.

  13. 13

    DaveScot said (#5) –

    As I’m reading commentary all over the web on this the evo-libs are really fond of calling Texas a backward state.

    Yes, Texas has the LBJ Space Center in Houston and Texas Instruments, a pioneer in integrated circuits. The evo-libs were saying the same things about Kansas. Wichita, Kansas has been nicknamed “Air Capital of the World” because of its aviation industry, and has also been nicknamed “the Detroit of the general aviation industry.”

    DaveScot said (#11) –

    No one needs to know more about evolution than the microevolution which accounts for bacterial and viral drug resistance.

    It is of course OK to talk about scientific merits here but IMO it needs to be recognized that the primary issue here is the right if not the duty of the Texas Education Agency to be neutral on issues that are topics of upcoming public hearings on revisions of the state science standards. The Darwinists pretend that teaching creationism in the public schools is the only issue so that they can cite the Edwards v. Aguillard decision prohibiting such teaching — the Darwinists are deliberately ignoring the important issues of whether and how to include intelligent design, non-ID criticisms of evolution, “teaching the controversy,” and/or evolution disclaimers in the curriculum. Any problems or concerns about including these things in the curriculum should come out in the public hearings.

    As for teaching evolution, I think that is a good idea because it is still widely accepted by scientists and because it is the basis of cladistic taxonomy.

  14. Dave Scot: Interesting data on the University of Texas, Austin. It is nearly a twin, statistically, to the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest university. It has 50,219 undergrads and 10,991 graduate students, while Austin’s site says almost 50,000 undergrads and 11000 graduate students…

    http://www.utoronto.ca/aboutuoft/quickfacts.htm

  15. scheesman

    I had no idea Toronto U was that big.

    By the way, it appears UT is no longer the biggest in the United States. It was the largest every year from 1997 through 2003 but has gradually dropped down to #5 since then.

    2003 is, by the way, the same year that evolution was added to Texas high school biology textbooks.

    So it looks like adding evolution to biology textbooks could have caused UT enrollments to drop off. I’ll have to bring that little factoid up in the public hearings.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  16. 16

    So it looks like adding evolution to biology textbooks could have caused UT enrollments to drop off.

    On the flip side, #1 is Ohio State and #2 is University of Florida, places where ID has suffered setbacks in the last few years. And let’s not talk about #4, the U of Minn (Twin Cities) because we know what dubious hiring criteria they have.

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