Monday, May 22, 2006

Pandering Pols Address "Education" in Alabama

Our four major candidates for Governor were interviewed by The Birmingham News in regard to their positions on "education". "Candidates take differing tacks on education" indeed per the reporting of Charles J. Dean and Mike Cason. Nothing remarkable with Roy Moore talking his usual bizarre mixture of choice and local control and consolidation and religion and waste and ... He's truly pathetic. The Don made lots of sense at times which makes me even sadder in that I think he's so tainted where he'd likely have a hard time being elected or governing. I'm not against a lottery beyond the fact it is regressive. I voted against it the last time simply for that reason. Might as well have it with so many sister states cashing in. Lucy was loving lots, yet perhaps too much, leaving her a bit vague as I regret seems to be her strategy. Governor Riley was adequate yet he, like all the candidates frankly, left much to be desired.

A good place to start fixing education would be challenging the conservative takeover in education that has been afoot for the last twenty plus years. Not much chance on tackling "No Child Left Behind" or the other standards-based disasters. Real reform is likely way beyond these folks as The Don would have little chance of creating radical changes even if he could earn the office again. I don't have time or space to offer specific ideas just yet but hope to soon post on Captain Plaid or elsewhere.

The one area that I'll cover here in their position on "intelligent design". (My running commentary will be in bold italics.) Might cut a little but will give most of their ideas as follows:

Question: Do you support the teaching of intelligent design in public schools?

Baxley: "Describe what you mean by intelligent design. (Do you need a moment to think or could you perhaps not know this Lucy?)

(Critics refer to it as the new version of creationism, that there must be a grand creator behind life on Earth.)

"Let me tell you first of all, I believe in the grand creator. That is unwavering in my belief." (You might have lost my vote here. Pandering and not part of science.)

(As governor, would you propose legislation calling for the teaching of intelligent design?)

"No, I would not. I have my faith and my belief and what creation is to me. This is the core of my being. And I have a great respect for others having their relationship with their creator and their beliefs just like I do. This idea will never begin with me. But if someone came forward with that idea, you've just described what puts it in the hands of the people, it would have to go through committees for the public to be heard on it. Then it would be voted on by the voting members of the Legislature that the people have sent down there to cast their votes for them. Let me just say this. I can't think of a situation under which I would personally be supportive of it." (Waffling again! Also, what about folks that don't have a belief that there is a creator?)

Moore: "At one time in our country there was freedom to teach your children what you believed to be the truth. Now there is a mandate on what you teach your children. I disagree with the mandate. I agree with the freedom. I also subscribe to Thomas Jefferson's quote in his bill for religious freedom, that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. That means for you to be made to pay your money to teach something you don't believe is sinful to your children. To pay money to somebody else to teach your children something you don't believe, and hate, is sinful." (You probably do hate science! Sinful? What a wanker!)

(The teaching of Darwinism, Darwin's theory on the origins of life, if you disagreed with that, didn't believe that as a parent you would ..."

"Take them (my children) to another school."

(So you wouldn't oppose the teaching of evolution in schools where parents wanted it taught?)

"No. ... I'm not against public schools. If that's where parents want to send their children, they should have that freedom. They should have the freedom to send them to which public school. That's free enterprise. But if they want to send them to a Christian school or a homeschool, they should do that too."

(So, one more time, should intelligent design be taught in public schools?)

"If that's what parents want."

(But how would that work given the fact public schools are a governmental entity?)

"I don't think the state should mandate one theory over another. Not to allow alternatives is a type of tyranny." (Can you be any more inconsistent or illogical Roy?)

Riley: "I think we should at least have the ability to have a logical discussion about different views. Now, when we came into the process of defining it as intelligent design, I'm not too sure that's how I would phrase the debate because when you say intelligent design that takes it to a step that some parts I'm not too comfortable with. But to say a child needs to be exposed to theories that I believe a majority of the people in this country believe ... that believe there is a God, a deity, that did excise control over this world. I think most people in America believe that. To say you can't bring that up as an alternative doctrine is wrong." (Logical discussion? Majority thinking determines what we teach in a science class? My gracious!)

(So you would sign a bill if it made it through the Legislature mandating the teaching of ID?)

"It's not that I would mandate teaching of ID. But I would always support the idea that any teacher has the ability and option to talk about alternate philosophy, beliefs and ideas" (So they can teach polytheistic ideas on the origins or life. What about animism? Where does this line of logic end Governor?)

(So it would be all right for a teacher in the course of teaching evolution or origins of life to say another viewpoint is ... and then tell the story of Genesis?)

"Absolutely. Yes." (Good grief! You are walking away from the others in the polls! Why pander ... unless you really feel this is appropriate?)

(What would you say to people who said that would be interjecting religion into public schools?)

"It's not interjecting religion. At least religion to me is when you start talking about the denominations, about what people believe. I think most people in America today would say, if you polled them, that there is a God and God did have a part in the creation of this world and for a teacher to recognize that or at least recognize that as a belief of a majority of the people in this country, sure I think it's OK." (Again, the majority decides our science curriculum? Maybe we could let the many neo-confederates here work on our teaching of slavery and the American Civil War? And what are the lines about "not interjecting religion" and "religion to me is when you start talking about the denominations, about what people believe." all about? Isn't the literal story in Genesis "what people believe" Bob?)

Siegelman: "Frankly, I think that religion should not be taught in public school. That should be something that is reserved for parents and preachers and their children. I think we're straining at a gnat to swallow a camel. There are bigger issues out there that our kids are concerned with. They need to learn to read and write and add and subtract. They need to learn to get along with others. They can learn all of that stuff in schools, and there are some things I think are best reserved for parents and preachers and left out of public schools." (The Don may have just earned my vote despite the legal troubles he is facing.)

What a grand choice, as usual I lament, we have in Alabama. The Don is certainly the sharpest and most in line with my thinking and yet he's facing The Man with his legal troubles. Looks a bit questionable at least so I'm waiting. Still, Reverend Roy is still as crazy as a run over dog. Lucy is still a bit goosey on her positions and approach. Bob Riley ought to know better on some of this and we know he's conservative and pro-business. He could ratchet back some of the wing nuts in his leadership position and likely return to office yet he either is following this trend or is scared to stand up to the Religious Right. For either he will not earn my vote. Peace ... or War!