Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The world McLeroy wants

A recent report reveals what those of us who value science education and its benefits to society have long since feared: American students' comprehension of the biosciences can be summed up in two words, epic fail.

Middle and high school students across the country are generally falling behind in life sciences, and the nation is at risk of producing a dearth of qualified workers for the fast-growing bioscience industry, according to a report released Monday.

Students are showing less interest in taking life sciences and science courses, and high schools are doing a poor job of preparing students for college-level science, says the report, funded and researched by Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Biotechnology Institute.

The deficiencies will hurt the country's competitiveness with the rest of the world in the knowledge-based economy, the report concludes.

What the news article doesn't mention is that ever-expanding elephant in the room. There's a reason this is happening, and it isn't just that students would rather spend time with their 360s and PS3s. The interest in science education is waning because of a powerful and orchestrated right-wing Christian anti-science movement, which has seen its most appalling and flagrant expression in the Texas State Board of Education under Don McLeroy, who thinks experts are bad guys he needs to "stand up" to. Yes, well, I'm sure when you reach those pearly gates, Don, St. Peter will hand you your harp and halo and say, "Well fought, brave soldier." At least, I'm sure that's how the scene plays out in Mac's rapturous fantasies.

But as the report makes plain, the effort to protect religion via the outright demolition of education is having a disastrous effect, not merely on the minds of students (there's nothing worse you can do to a mind than rob it of the very will to learn, but the fundies, naturally, would disagree), but on the nation's economic future.

The biosciences are going to be one of the most important growth industries this century. And with the Christian War on Education in full swing, you can rest assured, that growth won't be happening here. We've long since been on the downward slide towards becoming an intellectual third world country. Now it seems we run the risk of becoming one across the board.

Texans, feel free to bring the findings of this report up when contacting your state senator with your opposition to McLeroy's appointment. I plan to. It may be a futile effort at this point, but the truth is always worth fighting for. The fact the fundies fear it so much is all the incentive you should need to keep fighting for it.


  1. McLeroy is turning me into an anti-dentite.

  2. It should also be mentioned that science is generally a subject persued by males and the drop out rate for male students has been rising quite a bit.

    While I think religion is part of the problem there is also another reason. Men just are not interested in school anymore due to many changes in how science and math are handled.

    (I am a long time reader, atheist, and first time commenter. Plus I can't spell for crap some days.)

  3. Good post. Adding further to your thoughts: You can be sure the Chinese and the Indians are not allowing their statistics to develop in anything like this way. >:-)

  4. Damn Dude, I see you to have also encountered Dan Marvin. I used to battle him alot on my older blog.

  5. Saint Peter at the Perly Gate? Come on, Mc Leroy is no Catholic! He would feel very insulted if he ever reads you. But seriously, This is worrying indeed. Are the fundies so influential in the States? I thought it was just a false perception and that while they were very vocal they still were marginal. I guess a marginal view (I cannot call what they defend ideas) can be imposed. Dreadful really. But I guess we have the same problem everywhere and the US is a sort of scapegoat: we all have fundies, they are everywhere too influential.

  6. As someone actually entering this field I don't know whether to be optimistic I stumbled into the next Silicon Valley bubble...or to be pissing my pants thinking about my future Indian/Chinese/Japanese hyper intelligent over lords.

  7. Well, according to the whining of Ken Ham, there may yet be hope on the horizon...

    Statistics show that if you were to line up all the elementary, middle, high school, and college students in your church, then at least 60% and maybe 70–80% will leave the church one day. They are your children—your grandchildren—and this research shows why this is happening and how we can stem the tide.We can only hope...


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