Tuesday, November 25, 2008
So I finally got the scoop about the impact of the election cycle from my colleague Paul Murray, an exploration geophysicist at the Bureau of Economic Geology.
Essentially nothing happened in the election. The Texas Board of Education is status quo, split 7 modestly liberal Democrats, 7 fundamentalists and one conservative not entirely fundamentalist. It could have been worse, but it's still pretty bad. Note that the district boundaires are tragically gerrymandered; note the bizarre boundaries tending to slice the urban areas into shreds.
A great deal of strum and dang (Texas for sturm und drang) is going into affecting the swing vote in setting educational standards in biology in Texas. Of course the pseudo-rational fundamentalists are trying to "teach the controversy". Paul attended a meeting of the board last week and he will keep me posted about the next one. Hopefully I will be able to take the day off and act like a good reporter, since this is one of the biggest science/public policy issues around and it's happening locally. Paul is not satisfied with the local reporting, but this editorial in the Statesman, I think , gives the flavor of the situation.
Standards are revisited in Texas on a decadal basis. Whatever these people decide is going to be the truth in Texas schools for ten years.
(Note: Texas has 8998 public schools serving 4.5 million students according to this site. De facto Texas strongly influences the textbooks for much of the country, i.e., most of the red states.)
Unfortunately these meetings do go on. Paul tells me the last one started at 9 AM and lasted until 11 PM. True journalism requires a strong stomach; putting up with fourteen hours of fundamentalist jive talk...