Rick Scott's Bizarre View of Higher Education
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This blog is dedicated to examining issues regarding the rise of anti-science in the USA. Anti-science comes in many forms (creationism, intelligent design, mysticism etc). Intelligent design and her half-sister, young earth creationism are particularly active in attempting to destroy modern science in favor of a theocratic educational system. The views on this page are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer, my family or the worms in the backyard.
Steve Newton of the National Center for Science Education has a very nice piece coming out in next month's issue of Earth. The article is entitled "Creationism Creeps into Conferences: Are creationists taking geologists for a ride?". The article discusses events that took place during the 2010 meeting of the Geological Society of America national meeting in Denver. The article focuses on a field trip led by young earth creationist 'scholars' to Garden of the Gods. It is even handed and compliments the leaders on a nice field trip (even if their thinly disguised motives are clear). It also mentions at the end, and exchange between myself and creationist Marcus Ross.
Senator Wise singles out evolution for critical analysis, but the real question is what is he really aiming for? The Sunshine State Standards ALREADY MANDATE that all science is critically evaluated and that includes evolution. Consider the standards as written:
Standard 1: The Practice of Science ...C: Scientific argumentation is a necessary part of scientific inquiry and plays an important role in the generation and validation of scientific knowledge.
Benchmark: SC.912.N.1.3 Recognize that the strength or usefulness of a scientific claim is evaluated through scientific argumentation, which depends on critical and logical thinking, and the active consideration of alternative scientific explanations to explain the data presented.
Standard 15: Diversity and Evolution of Living Organisms A. The scientific theory of evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology. B. The scientific theory of evolution is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.
Benchmark: SC.912.L.15.1Explain how the scientific theory of evolution is supported by the fossil record, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, biogeography, molecular biology, and observed evolutionary change.
So not only is the conservative house and senate now intent on all kinds of silly changes to the teaching standards, they also are now going to assure that potential teachers steer well clear of the state. The legislature is fast-tracking a bill that will (a) tie teacher's salaries to standardized tests and (b) eliminate tenure in favor of yearly contracts. The arguments made by the republicans are that by rewarding good teachers, more of the good teachers will want to come to Florida and teach. Sounds good in a perfect world, but Florida is not a perfect world and teaching is not a perfect profession. So let's look how this might actually affect teachers in the state. Consider:
Senator Stephen Wise (Florida State Senator) has introduced a bigoted and prejudicial bill into consideration. Specifically SB1854 makes a mockery of this country's rich and diverse history. Consider that the bill requires the following:
Shortly after the elections last fall, I looked over the different Florida house and senate races and saw the 'perfect storm' for the so-called Academic Freedom bill to be reintroduced. Sure enough SB1854 was introduced by Stephen Wise (also in the prediction). Stay tuned to see how this plays out. It doesn't look good for the pro-science education groups in Florida as the conservatives control both the house and senate by a wide margin and Rick Scott is sympathetic to creationism.
Is showing the premiere of its new CGI animated Story of the Earth program. I had the good fortune of being one of the scientific consultants for this film and am anxiously awaiting the premiere.
Ok, now that I have the attention of the young earth creationists, I can report on a just published study in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters (Nebel et al., 2011 "Evaluation of the 87Rb decay constant by age comparison against the U–Pb system, v301, p.1-8).