Thursday, March 02, 2006

EOC Member who Hates Public Education Lectures us on what's Best for Public Education.

Over at Barbecue and Politics, Gervais discovers something that I've known ever since the creationists have gone on the offensive in these parts: One of the Governor's appointees on the Educational Oversight Committee (the one currently attacking the curriculum standards dealing with evolution here in SC) is in fact an advocate of doing away with public education altogether. It's a rather extreme point of view, but still one that's not completely outside the bounds of sanity. Yet the irony of putting someone in charge of oversight of public schools who thinks that the existence of public schools is illegitimate is a bit much. Either she isn't staying true to her principles, or she's using her seat on the committee to work against the committee's ostensible goal of improving public education.

Sayeth Gervais:

If Gervais was to sift through a list of potential nominees for my state's Education Oversight Committee - the folks charged with improving South Carolina'’s K-12 public schools - one of the first questions I would ask is, "“Do you believe in public schools?"

Just in case, you know? It'’s like asking a babysitter if he or she likes kids. I'm a tough interviewer like that.

In EOC member Karen Iacovelli'’s case, a better question might be, "Have you ever signed a decree that says, 'I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education?'"

I almost fell out of my tree when I saw her name on this California website as a "“Proclamation Signer."” Sure, it'’s a valid opinion. But not for someone appointed by the Governor to improve public schools. That's like appointing an arsonist as State Fire Marshal. (note to self: make sure Sanford did not appoint an arsonist as State Fire Marshal)

Keep that in mind if you subject yourself to the torment of reading this 5 page screed (pdf) in which Iacovelli advocates "teaching the convroversy" over evolution. This is one of the dumber defenses of "teach the controversy" I've had the displeasure of reading. As I pointed out recently, there is no actual controversy regarding the basics of evolution, and "intelligent design" is regarded as pseudoscience by the scientific community. After the recent Dover decision, these basic facts are now enshrined in a Federal court ruling. But Iacovelli just knows there's a controversy, a geniune controversy, because get this: You can find it on the internets! That is the substance of her argument. I am not kidding:

There on the internet were thousands upon thousands of pages of intelligent, scientific debate regarding the science or nonsense of evolution. Did skeptics just make up stuff that questioned the merits of specific aspects of evolution? The debate exists. No contest!

Someone needs to inform Iacovelli that people do indeed make up stuff on the internet, and that one can find almost any crank idea, no matter how discredited, championed by hundreds of people with enough technical skill (available to your average 3rd grader) to publish a website. Given her lame reasoning, we must also teach astrology, holocaust denial, geocentrism, and the idea that the Apollo missions were faked, because these are all things that can be found on the 'net. (Heck one can even find the crazy idea that governments should end their involvement in education. Now that's cranky!)

The rest of it is so much nonsense. She invokes a horrible conspiracy to "silence" pro-ID voices, by referencing an implausible claim by Sen. Mike Fair that two SC professors who were going to testify in his favor backed-out at the last minute, forcing him to use out-of-state ringers. (Never mind that both Mary Lang Edwards and my former genetics professor, Rob Dillon, have had their jobs threatened for speaking out over the pro-ID policy. The fake martyrdom pose is as much a necessary part of ID polemics as is denying any religious motivation). Iacovelli also puts forth the argument that the "critically analyze" language has nothing whatsoever to do with ID, in spite of the fact that it's being pushed by a group that advocates ID, who has in the past argued that such language requires the teaching of ID. And of course, what pro-ID piece would be complete without a gratuitous reference to Communism?