"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Texas School Board and Creationism

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...


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