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“”Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.
Don McLeroy, the Texas dentist, was a member of the Texas Board of Education for more than a decade (1998-2011), and was appointed chairman by governor Rick Perry in 2007. During his leadership the board did a thorough job of removing science and what McLeroy perceived as liberal bias from textbooks used in public schools in Texas. Even though Rick Perry reappointed McLeroy as chairman in 2009, saying that “Texas is a national example of how to best prepare our children for higher education and the workplace,” the reappointment was rejected by the Texas senate.
McLeroy on evolution
“”The culture war over science education, the teaching of evolution, is going to be there, no matter what. Education is too important not to politicize.
McLeroy is a
bloviating douche known champion of creationism and a loud opponent of evolution. In 2005, he received some attention for a sermon he conducted in his church. In relation to his work for the Board of Education he declared that naturalism is “the enemy” and that “Intelligent Design [is] the big tent [… b]ecause we’re all lined up against […] naturalism. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.” The sermon is available here, as are some supplemental materials. He has also said: “I think what we’re doing is destroying America’s soul in science.” Nevertheless, his mandate was how best to teach Texas’s kids about science.
In 2009, he campaigned ardently to insert the Discovery Institute’s “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” propaganda in the curriculum standards, and he succeeded in inserting language focusing on “sudden appearance” and “stasis”, as well as the complexity of the cell, standard creationist talking points that may facilitate the selection of creationist friendly textbooks for science education. On the scientific consensus regarding evolution, McLeroy said “Scientific consensus means nothing. All it takes is one fact to overthrow consensus,” though one would think it mattered to what materials one should use in public education. He continued “[e]volution has a status that it simply doesn’t deserve. People say it’s vital to understanding biology. But it’s genetics that’s the foundation for biology. A biologist once said that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution. Well, that’s not true. You go into the top biology labs, and it makes no difference if evolution is true or false to what they’re doing and studying. It makes no difference.” He also wrote a glowing recommendation for Robert Bowie Johnson Jr.’s self-published book “Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles.” According to the book “NAS has stolen true science; they are sacrificing our children to their atheism, and at the same time, destroying our children’s faith in God,” and “What kind of monster parents teach their children that they’re descended from rodents and reptiles?” McLeroy has also argued that evolution is not testable, apparently because it presupposes methodological naturalism.
Controversies surrounding McLeroy’s work on the board of education motivation are not limited to evolution. According to McLeroy “… we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan – he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.” You can facepalm now.
McLeroy’s efforts concerning social studies standards have been particularly noteworthy, especially his efforts to undermine work done by real experts concerning the education standards in favor of the work of his own heroes, such as the dominionist historical revisionism of David Barton.
In his position as chairman of the Board McLeroy also attempted to reject advanced placement environmental science textbooks because they, in McLeroy’s mind, contained errors that were not found by any serious scientist.
- TFN report on McLeroy's stance on Johnson's book