Having failed twice before, Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, is promoting another stealth creationist bill, House Bill 116, which “provides relative to textbooks and other instructional materials for [public] elementary and secondary schools.”When Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Dubberly, expressed concern that HB116 could permit adoption of controversial books on evolution and other subjects (Advocate May 13), he was exactly right.
Hoffmann responded, “That is not what this is about. I guarantee you that is not my purpose in bringing this act.” The facts show otherwise. Enabling school boards to buy creationist books is precisely Hoffmann’s purpose, as I documented two years ago at the Louisiana Coalition for Science (LCFS) website: lasciencecoalition.org
At the same time, Fox might not seem like the most obvious home for a high-minded astrophysics series, although the network believes that even without a huge financial return, the series “could have a cultural impact.”
North Carolina? You remember: the state against science regarding sea level rise? The state with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head who doubts climate change science and believes oil is a renewable resource? The state that tried to appoint a head of early childhood education who believed the Fukushima earthquake might have been caused by ultrasonic waves from North Korea? That North Carolina?
Folks, that’s nothing. We have a new record.
Okay, hmm … you’re Republican legislator Mike Hager, you hate the renewables program, and your bill has just been defeated by an indisputable margin of five votes. What to do … what to do? Easy. You reintroduce the bill. And when it next comes up in committee, this time in the state senate? You have a voice vote — and have your finance committee chair, Republican Bill Rabon, refuse to count the actual votes. In a voice vote so close that both sides claim they would have won if the votes had been counted, Rabon declares that the bill has passed and runs off.
No, I wish I were, but I am not making this up. We have given up counting votes in North Carolina. The Reign of Error rules supreme here.
In theocrat run Kansas you can see the portents of what would transpire if religious zealots were given even a half a reign to run our country.
The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives voted to advance legislation adding new restrictions to abortions in the state Tuesday.
The legislation would end the use of tax exemptions for payments for abortions, while at the same time requiring doctors to inform women that abortions may cause breast cancer, a claim that has been disputed by the medical community. The bill also defines life as beginning at fertilization and would prohibit all state employees from performing abortions during the work day. The bill now advances to the GOP-controlled state Senate, where it is expected to pass, then be signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has said he will sign any anti-abortion bill that reaches his desk.
“I am disappointed but not surprised by the House’s vote,” Kansas NOW lobbyist Elise Higgins told The Huffington Post. “I am extremely disappointed and saddened by their decision not to extend an exemption for rape and incest.”
Anti-intellectual, anti-science bad craziness being promoted in schools. And we’re paying for it.
Religious Right leaders and anti-government ideologues have shared a decades-long dream: to dismantle public education through a system of vouchers that would divert taxpayer funds out of public schools and into religious schools and other private academies. For some, privatizing education is primarily a religious or ideological project. For others, the billions of dollars that flow through public schools is a tempting source of cash. For some it’s both. Whatever the incentive, voucher proponents are finding success. A renewed push for the creation and expansion of voucher and voucher-like schemes is contributing to a disturbing rise in public education dollars being diverted to schools that face little to no oversight or public accountability and teach religious dogma at the expense of science.
State legislators and their corporate backers in the American Legislative Exchange Council have pushed similar voucher-like tax breaks in other states, often employing the language of “choice” and “options” to divert public attention from the intent and effect of these schemes. After conservative victories in state elections in 2010, governors and legislators in many states, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida, pushed to create or expand programs that divert public education dollars into religious schools and other private academies.
Among the most aggressive is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is basically pushing an effort to privatize public education in his state. He has instituted a massive voucher program grounded in the “model legislation” pushed by ALEC, which honored Jindal in 2011 with its Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. Think Progress notes that Jindal’s plan will divert huge sums from public schools: “Since the public schools will lose commensurate funding every time one of their students opt for a voucher, the state’s public school system could by some estimates lose up to $3.3 billion annually once the program is fully implemented. “
Ed Kilgore noted last summer in Washington Monthly:
In heading his state in the direction of universally available vouchers rationalized by public school failure, Jindal is not, of course, holding any of the private school beneficiaries accountable for results, or for common curricula, or, it appears, for much of anything. A big chunk of the money already out there is being snapped up by conservative evangelical schools with exotic and hardly public-minded curricular offerings, with the theory being that any public oversight would interfere with the accountability provided by “the market.” So if you want your kid to attend, at public expense, the Christian Nationalist Academy for Servant-Leader Boys & Fecund Submissive Girls, that’s okay by Bobby.
Lack of accountability is a real concern. While proponents of voucher programs paint a picture of a poor student being given a chance to attend an elite private academy, most of those schools have few openings, meaning that the “choice” offered to many students and parents is something far different, including fly-by-night schools with little track record of their own. According to the Louisiana Budget Project,
Louisiana requires almost no accountability from voucher schools….While voucher students are required to take the same assessment tests as public school students, there are no penalties for private schools if they fail to measure up to their public counterparts. In fact, Gov. Jindal vetoed language in a 2011 appropriations bill that would have removed participating schools if their students’ scores lagged those in the lowest performing schools in the Recovery School District, which incorporates most New Orleans public schools.
So if public schools have lousy test scores, they’re failures and their students all get vouchers. But if the private schools have lousy test scores, then….nothing. Presumably the magic of the free market will fix them up.
Anti-Science Bill Dies in Arizona
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1213 died on February 22, 2013, when the deadline for Senate bills to be heard in their Senate committees passed. A typical instance of the “academic freedom” strategy for undermining the integrity of science education, SB 1213 specifically targeted “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming[,] and human cloning” as supposedly controversial. Unusually, however, a sponsor of the bill, Judy Burges (R-District 22), told the Arizona Star (February 5, 2013) that climate science was her primary concern, complaining of imbalance in the presentation of climate change in the public schools.
Anti-Science Bill Dies in Oklahoma
Senate Bill 758 (document), the so-called Oklahoma Science Education Act, which would have undermined the integrity of science education in the Sooner State, is dead. February 25, 2013, was the deadline for Senate bills to pass their committees, but the Senate Education Committee adjourned its February 25, 2013, meeting without considering it. Still active in the Oklahoma legislature is House Bill 1674 (document), styled the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, which differs from SB 758 primarily in mentioning “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as supposedly controversial topics. HB 1674 passed the House Education Committee on a 9-8 vote on February 19, 2013.
Anti-Science Bill Dies in Indiana
Indiana’s House Bill 1283 died on February 25, 2013, when the deadline for House bills to have their third reading in the House passed. The fate of the bill was not unexpected: its sponsor Jeff Thompson (R-District 28) told the Lafayette Journal and Courier (February 3, 2013) that he thought that it would not receive a hearing in the House Education Committee, and a spokesperson for the committee’s chair said that it would not receive a hearing due to the volume of bills and the limited time to address them.
Claiming that “some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics,” HB 1283 would have allowed teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher” and prohibited state and local education authorities from prohibiting them from doing so.
After Initial Problems, SpaceX Dragon Now Looking Good On Orbit
A dramatic series of events unfolded this morning shortly after the private commercial company SpaceX launched their Dragon capsule into space. This launch was part of the second of 12 planned missions to bring supplies and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).
To be clear, things are looking good now, and it looks like the mission will proceed. Just not quite as planned.
What the hell can anyone say about this???
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology said today that the committee would hold hearings next week “to settle the question, once and for all, of whether meteors exist.”
“The media has been in something of a frenzy recently on this whole topic of meteors,” said chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “I think it’s irresponsible of them to frighten the public about something that, at the end of the day, may be about as real as unicorns.”
Rep. Smith said that he had seen recent reports of the “so-called Russian meteor” of last week, but added, “Maybe it’s the scientific skeptic in me, but this ‘meteor’ may just have been a bunch of fireworks that some Siberian fellow set off after drinking a little too much Stoli. It is winter, after all, and that’s how those folks keep warm.”
Remember, Lamar Smith is a “man made global warming skeptic,” who once decried ABC, NBC, and CBS as having coverage on climate change that was “slanted in favor of global warming alarmists.”
And now he’s going to settle the question of whether meteors do, in fact, exist.
Read more here.
UPDATED to change category to “Humor,” since this is from a parody site…
…which I missed when I first read it. :P
House Bill 1283, introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives on January 23, 2013, and referred to the House Committee on Education, is the seventh antiscience bill of 2013. Although evolution is not specifically mentioned in the bill, the previous legislation introduced by its sponsor, Jeff Thompson (R-District 28), and the similarity of its language to the language of previous antievolution bills together make it amply clear that the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools is a main target.
HB 1283 begins by asserting as legislative findings that “(1) an important purpose of education is to inform students about evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to become intelligent, productive, and informed citizens; (2) some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics; and (3) some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how the teachers should present information and evidence on these topics.”
HB 1283 requires state and local education officials to “endeavor to create an environment within accredited schools that encourages students to explore questions, learn about evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to different conclusions and theories concerning” such topics, and also requires them not to prohibit teachers from “helping students to understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of existing conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.”
HB 1283 further provides, “A teacher shall be allowed to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.” And, attempting to immunize the bill from accusations of its permitting unconstitutional activity in the classroom, it insists that it “may not be construed to promote: (1) any religious or nonreligious doctrine; (2) discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs; or (3) discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”
In 2012, the bill’s author Jeff Thompson was the House sponsor of Dennis Kruse’s Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 would have allowed local school districts to teach creation science, but the Senate, before passing it, amended the bill to allow local school districts to teach various theories of the origin of life, which “must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.” SB 89 as amended eventually died in the House.
Also in 2012, Thompson was the author of House Bill 1140, which would have required teachers to discuss “commonly held competing views” on topics “that cannot be verified by scientific empirical evidence.” Although evolution was not specifically mentioned in the bill, its coauthor Cindy Noe (R-District 87) cohosted a controversial dinner at the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis in 2009, according to the Fort Wayne Reader (August 23, 2010): the Expo’s organizer claimed that Noe was a supporter of his organization. In any case, HB 1140 seems to have died in committee.
HB 1283 is the only antiscience bill in Indiana in 2013. As NCSE previously reported, state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14) disclosed in November 2012 that he intended to introduce a bill that would encourage teachers to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial. He subsequently changed his plan, saying that he would introduce a bill that would allow students to challenge teachers to provide evidence to support any claims the students found suspect. Apparently, however, no such bill has been introduced, and deadlines for filing Senate bills and for Senate bills to be assigned to committee have passed.
A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.
The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.
However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.
Millions of dollars has been paid to Donors through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.
Some commentators believe that such convoluted arrangements are becoming increasingly common to shield the identity and backgrounds of the wealthy supporters of climate scepticism - some of whom have vested interests in the fossil-fuel industry.
One of Obama’s actions against gun violence has been to move towards ending the de facto ban, instigated by the pro-gun lobby, on scientific research on the topic. Scholars have released the following chart, tallying cause of death against the amount of research carried out on that cause:
Condition/Cases in U.S./Number of NIH Grants
Firearms injuries/more than 4 million/3
Just another example of a rational science-based approach from the adults in charge.