October 13, 2008
Endorsement watch: State Board of Education

Another good call by the Chronicle:

The State Board of Education performs an extremely important function for the state's school system. It provides direction to Texas schools by adopting policies and setting standards for educational programs. The board is now faced with the task of determining curriculum standards for the state's new science textbook. The Chronicle believes the best candidate for the District 7 position is veteran educator and former Friendswood City Council member Laura Ewing.

The question facing the board, in the first overhaul of the science curriculum in more than a decade, is whether the curriculum will continue to include teaching the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories, including evolution. It sounds reasonable. But a coalition of Texas scientists says the "strengths and weaknesses" provision is simply an excuse to expose students to "supernatural and fringe explanations" instead of traditional scientific principles. Sahotra Sarkar, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, stated the case for the coalition: "We should teach students 21st-century science, not some watered-down version with phony arguments that nonscientists disingenuously call 'weaknesses,' " she told the board recently. "Calling 'intelligent design' arguments a weakness of evolution is like calling alchemy a weakness of chemistry, or astrology a weakness of astronomy."

One of the board members supporting the "strengths and weaknesses" provision is the vice chairman, David Bradley of Beaumont. Bradley, a Republican representing District 7, which includes parts of the Houston area, contends: "Evolution is not a fact. Evolution is a theory and, as such, cannot be proved. Students need to be able to jump to their own conclusions."

Ewing, by contrast, says she believes in creationism but thinks it is best discussed in personal religious practice rather than in the classroom. The Chronicle couldn't agree more.

Professionals over ideologues. I can't always fathom the Chron's logic, but for stuff like this they're pretty consistent. Turns out incumbent David Bradley has residency issues, too. Put it all together and it's easy to see that Ewing is the better choice and an easy call for the Chron to make.

Speaking of professionals versus ideologues, there's another such race on the SBOE, in District 14, where incumbent Republican member Gail Lowe is apparently a global warming denier. Lowe has a professional educator for an opponent as well in Edra Bogle, but that's a much tougher place to run - the district cuts a swath through red North and Central Texas, with Denton County making up almost 40% of it. Lowe was unopposed in 2002 for the open seat, then again in 2004 (SBOE elections are like those for the State Senate - everyone runs after redistricting, then half run again in two years and half in four), so maybe not having had a general election opponent before will fluster her or something. Dos Centavos has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 13, 2008 to Election 2008
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