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|The divine comedy|
Barbara Cargill is the current (2012) chairman of the Texas Board of Education, serving since 2005 (District 8) and chairman since 2011, and a staunch young earth creationist. She succeeded Gail Lowe, another creationist, who again succeeded the infamous Texas dentist, Don McLeroy, in 2009.
On her campaign website she brags about her support for issues such as:
- History curriculum standards that “emphasize patriotism, the free enterprise system,” revisionist history copied and pasted straight from David Barton’s dominionist-directed, pseudo-historical writings “and American exceptionalism”.
- History textbooks that “do not contain anti-Christian/pro-Islam bias” (again, the Board resolution is copied straight out of David Barton)
- Health textbooks that are “pro-life, that uphold traditional definitions of marriage and family and abstinence-based sex education”
- Science textbooks that “encourage students to think, ask, and predict," and “that present evolution as a theory, not as fact. Yes, the “just a theory” claim is there, right on the front of her campaign website.
Cargill happily refers to scientific articles she hasn’t read and wouldn’t understand if she did, and distorts any new modification of any biological theory to support creationism, usually by misreading newspaper reports of scientific findings. For example, she interpreted the infamous New Scientist article Darwin was wrong as a ”significant challenge” to the theory of Evolution. She was also responsible for deciding that the age of the universe and whether it's expanding was a matter to be decided by a board vote. As you would expect from the Texas Board of Education, the proposed amendment inserting claims to the effect that these matters were subject to substantial scientific controversy passed. Indeed, her very first action as new chairman in 2011 was to call out her non-creationist colleagues at the school board by questioning their faith.
In 2010 she almost managed to get Thomas Paine added to the Grade 5 standards. Cargill, of course, knew nothing about Paine except that a) he had advocated for American independence from Great Britain and b) he's frequently mentioned by Glenn Beck, and had to be told by fellow board member Pat Hardy that he might not be so suitable for grade 5 students due to his criticism of Christianity. The absurdity of the discussion stands as a fine illustration of how the Texas Board of Education works, and of Cargill’s suitability as a school board member.