Thursday, May 28, 2009

Texas Senate Democrats block McLeroy for SBOE Chairman

Democrats Block McLeroy. The vote was 19-11 on a party-line vote; McLeroy required 2/3rds or 21 votes to be confirmed. The Democrats blocked Dr McLeroy because his Christian beliefs and his actions over science standards had aroused opposition from liberal interest groups, including Planned Parenthood, who testified against McLeroy during his rocky reception at Texas Senate hearings.

Free Market Foundation (FMF) Director of Legislative Affairs and Attorney Jonathan Saenz released the following statement: “Some Senators have made it clear that the N.Y. Times, religious beliefs, and party affiliation are in control of deciding who serves as SBOE chairman. The message has been sent — if you have sincere religious beliefs, you need not apply to be chair of the State Board of Education.”
Sen Kirk Watson had an interesting quote: “He has enthusiastically embraced his role in the endless cultural wars,” ... Really? What about the other side of the battlefield? Did not Sen Kirk Watson enthusiastically embrace his role as a warrior on the other side by questioning Dr McLeroy's capability and voting him out as SBOE Chairman?

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said “The state board has become increasingly divided and deeply dysfunctional and almost paralyzed to action at certain times,” . ... Really? As with Sen Watson's quote on 'cultural wars', it takes two to tango. If SBOE is 'paralyzed' then why are there efforts to reduce SBOE power instead of maintain and increase it? McLeroy’s leadership was shown when he led the board to the nearly unanimous vote of 13-2 on the new science standards to continue to allow discussion and debate on critical science issues, including evolution. Some amendments had votes of 8-7. (Do we call the Supreme Court or the Texas Senate paralyzed because the body isn't always unanimous? Should House Speaker Strauss be fired because Dunham D's blew up and paralyzed the House this week?)

Maybe SBOE got divided because the people are divided on this issue and various interest groups are as well. Creationists want a chance to not have kids taught that evolution is the one and only truth of the matter; evolutionists don't want science and 'pseudo-science' mixed. The news headlines that came out of that new science standard was: Teaching evolution now protected. It's a decent compromise that takes keeps evolution in textbooks, does not force 'weaknesses' of evolution to be taught, but encourages examining scientific theories via critical thinking:

“The requirement that students examine, ‘analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations' and examine all sides of scientific evidence is the strongest critical thinking standard in any state science standards,” said Casey Luskin, a lawyer for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute ... Texans Citizens for Science President Steven Schafersman said “I think the science standards will be OK. Frankly, the publishers and the authors of the textbooks will be able to use this standard and write good textbooks,”
So surely this is not a reaction to the (reasonable science) standards that were produced by the SBOE. What then? Blaming Dr McLeroy for the 'cultural wars' that are engaged by the partisans already, then dumping on him because people are divided on issues is the height of irony. It's real simple: The Texas Senate Democrats dumped on Christian conservative Dr McLeroy not for being ineffective, but for working for things that ticked off the liberal interest groups that opposed him all along. One can replace "SBOE" for "Dr McLeroy" and the truth is the same. Now why can't Sen Kirk Watson admit that?

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