Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Small Victory, But We'll Take It

Here in SC, we've been enduring the neo-creationist assault for the past several months and then some. Background is here, here, here, and here, in chronological order. Quick synopsis: The Educational Oversight Committee (EOC), whose apparent job is to serve as an unnecessary bureaucratic pain in the ass, voted to reject a portion of the biology standards dealing with evolution. They then recommended that "critically analyze" language be added to the standards for each indicator they had rejected. This plan was hatched by the Discovery Institute for the sole purpose of forcing creationist arguments into the curriculum. But the EOC can't make such changes themselves, they can only vote the standards up or down. The Board of Education (BOE) is the one who actually writes the standards. Luckily, the BOE was wise enough to reject the "critically analyze" language in a vote in early March. While that was a set-back for the Discovery Institute's agenda, the issue isn't settled yet; the EOC is supposed to take it up again in about a week.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Walker (R-Spartanburg), one of the ring-leaders of the original anti-evolution policy, introduced an amendment to require all textbooks adopted by the state to "emphasize critical thinking and analysis in each academic content."” Everyone knew that the amendment pertained to evolution, and that trying to make it apply to every academic subject was a lame attempt at political cover. (Noted the Dept. of Education liaison skeptically: How do you ask students to critically analyze German, or algebra, or keyboarding?)

But today, we've got good news. A just released AP report informs us that the House Education and Public Works committee has rejected the amendment. Similar language remains in the Senate version of the bill, but hey, we'll take what we can get for now.

What really cracks me up about this is that every time Bob Walker and Mike Fair open their mouths about the amendment, they swear up and down that it has nothing to do with Intelligent Design or attacking evolution. Apparently, the suspicious timing of the amendment (coming immediately after the EOC attempt to change the biology standards) and the amendment's suspicious language (almost identical to the proposed standards changes) are purely coincidental. It is so obviously disingenuous, no one is buying it:

Rep. B.R. Skelton, R-Six Mile, said the wording appeared to be a way around the state Board of Education's decision not to incorporate critical analysis into several sentences of high school biology standards.
Even politicians can take only so much bullshit. Put Billy Ray Skelton on the Good Guys list. Good things do come from Six Mile. (Having gone to high school with people from Six Mile, I am hesitant to say such things, but it's true.)