Saturday, November 04, 2006

Five Reasons Not to Vote for Karen Floyd

Karen Floyd is the Republican nominee for State Superintendent of Education in South Carolina running against Democrat Jim Rex. Here is why you should pick Rex over Floyd:

1. Floyd wants to teach creationism.

The paper trail on this is extensive. But Floyd has come out and said quite clearly that she favors the teaching of "intelligent design" (i.e. creationism-lite) and is an ally of the Discovery Institute. Here are some examples:

From the Charleston Post and Courier, Nov. 3rd:

The six candidates for state superintendent of education have found much to disagree about, but when it comes to whether intelligent design should be taught in schools, all but one see eye to eye.

While Republican Karen Floyd is not the only candidate who thinks teaching alternatives to Darwin's theories would benefit students, she is the one who says it's appropriate to discuss intelligent design in public school science classes.

The public schools need to do more to satisfy students' curiosity, she said. "Education is about the quest for knowledge, every question should be answered."

Forbidding teachers, even science teachers, to broach the subject of life's origins creates an atmosphere of fear that's unfair to children, she said. Students are smart, she said, and they connect the dots: Some will wonder "how many dinosaurs boarded Noah's Ark."

That last statement is particularly disturbing, because it shows that Floyd wants to teach Young-Earth Creationist arguments as well.

The idea that teachers can't broach the subject of life's origins is sheer nonsense. That's the whole point of teaching evolution. However, there is the proper, scientific way to teach evolution, and then there's the improper, religiously dogmatic way. If a student asks "how many dinosaurs boarded Noah's Ark", you tell them the correct answer: Zero. Because Noah's Ark is a fable and the dinosaurs were extinct millions of years before humans existed. Telling them anything else will be teaching them a big, fat falsehood.

But there is more. From the Greenville News, Nov. 3rd.

"I support the Education Oversight (Committee)'s premise that we should have critical analysis so that the discussion of intelligent design is not prohibited and could be part of the classroom discussion," Floyd said.

The Discovery Institute must be pulling their collective hair out over this one. After having carefully cultivated the lie that their "critical analysis of evolution" is not the same thing as teaching ID, here Karen Floyd goes and ruins it for them. And then there is this bizarre statement:

Floyd said she believes "what's being taught in school should never undermine what's being taught in the home," adding that it's "absolutely critical that we don't prohibit any young person from asking questions that they think are relevant."

So apparently if someone tells their kids at home that the Earth is flat, it would apparently be wrong for geography teachers to say otherwise. This lady has no business in the educational sphere, period.

But it gets worse. To see Floyd's sheer, unbridled pro-creationism craziness, you'll have to check out this article on the South Carolina Parent's in Education (SC-PIE) website. Don't let the name fool you, it's a far right-wing anti-public school organization (I discussed it previously here).

There are a growing number of prominent scientists who are "poking around" in the foundations of evolutionary theory. Irreducible complexity is just one issue that causes heartburn for the evolutionists.

I hate to break it to you Ms. Floyd, but "irreducible complexity" doesn't cause anyone heartburn, and there is not a "growing number of scientists" who support ID. The number of scientists who support ID has stagnated at just slightly above zero.

Long gone are the days when God was excluded from scientific circles. If we ignore that reality, we will only limit our children's scientific knowledge.

Really? Someone forgot to send me the memo. I'm a working scientist who attends seminars on a weekly basis given by other scientists from around the country, and I have yet, even once, to hear anyone invoke divine intervention as part of any theory in biology.

I'm afraid that Floyd is one of those who just has no clue about what goes on in scientific circles and makes the mistake of thinking that the propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute is actually truthful. That's the last person you want in charge of education.

2. Jim Rex is far more qualified for the job; Floyd has no relevant qualifications of any kind.

I'll let Laurin Manning handle this one:

Irrespective of political parties (I think this should be a nonpartisan race), the difference in job qualifications of the candidates makes this race a no-brainer. Mrs. Floyd is a former prosecutor with some business experience and a stint as Chairwoman of the Spartanburg County Council. She’s a smart lady, and in my book, she’s much more qualified to run for Attorney General than she is for Superintendent of Education.

The Democratic nominee, Dr. Jim Rex, is former high school English teacher, football coach, Dean of both Winthrop University and Coastal Carolina University, former president of Columbia College, and former Vice President for Development at the University of South Carolina. I couldn’t gin up a better resume for this position if I tried.

3. Floyd is the recipient of wads out out-of-state money from pro-voucher advocate Howard Rich.

Not only is Howard Rich trying to buy the election for Floyd, he's spitting in the face of the state's campaign laws to do so. Sure, he's only donated the maximum that a person is allowed to donate. Only problem is, he's done it no less than sixteen times, using various front-groups and dummy corporations to hide the fact that it's all coming from the same person. Whether that's technically illegal is something I don't know, but it clearly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter.

4. Floyd's pro-voucher position is extreme.

I have kind of mixed feelings on vouchers. I think they're acceptable in limited circumstances in areas where 1) the public schools are doing very poorly (mostly in poor neighborhoods) and 2) there exists a sufficient array of private schools such that students actually have a choice, rather than, for example, one single Catholic school getting all the funding. Those two don't coincide very often, but when they do, I'm not against vouchers. What I am against are broad voucher programs that do little more than transfer public monies to wealthy or super-religious people who already opt out of public schools. And I'm not alone; 70% of South Carolinians are against vouchers. But Karen Floyd is not among them.

It's hard to believe, given her association with SC-PIE, her association with Howard Rich, and her general support for religious right positions, that Floyd isn't simply an opponent of public education, period. Like the Bush administration's running of the federal government, Floyd will most likely look for any opportunity to make SC schools worse, not better, so that she can turn around and say, "See, government doesn't work". (Her terrible plan to put video cameras in every classroom, aside from being Big Brother style creepy, appears to have the purpose of making public education just that much more expensive and bureaucracy laden.)

5. Floyd's own step-mother is supporting Jim Rex.

I'm not sure if this one is funny or sad. I guess a little of both.

The State, Oct. 24th:

Republican Karen Floyd’s stepmother contributed $100 last week to Democrat Jim Rex in the state superintendent of education race, a decision that prompted Floyd’s father to send her an identical donation Tuesday.

Jean E. Kanes wrote the Rex campaign a check Friday, and her donation is included in a summary of campaign contributions compiled for a mandatory report for the State Ethics Commission.

If anyone wants to add anything else in comments, please do share. Unfortunately I can't vote against Floyd because I now live in Colorado, but I'll be lending moral support to the Rex campaign.