Archive for September, 2008

No CEO Left Behind

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Ever hear critics of public schools just swear that if we'd run schools like a business, educational problems would magically disappear? Former Kansas Department of Education commissioner Bob Corkins was a perfect representative of that group; before state board of education radicals appointed him as commish, Corkins lobbied the Kansas legislature against education funding on behalf of the Flint Hills Public Policy Institute. The FHPPI is one of the several anti-any-tax think tanks funded primarily by Koch Industries, and allied with the global-warming-denying Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Let's indulge those businesslike fantasies for a moment and imagine a public school classroom run like AiG or Merrill Lynch.

Only a tiny fraction of this class would actually graduate from high school. Truancy would be an attractive option because it would get kids away from the drugs and violence in the halls. Scores on the state assessments would plummet and this particular group hasn't met its goal for Annual Yearly Progress. Money that was supposed to be spent on textbooks and whiteboard markers and lab equipment instead found its way into the teacher's pocket. The school board recognizes that the teacher is driving learning into the ground for these kids, but instead of firing him outright, they agree to give the teacher a huge chunk of the district's funds when he inevitably leaves this classroom in search of another group of kids to exploit.

This is a horrid fantasy. Even more horrid is the reality:

Meanwhile, the former CEOs who accepted fat severance packages from the banks at the heart of the crisis are long gone.

For Citigroup's Prince that means $10.4 million in cash and stock holdings valued at $22 million that he received on his departure in November 2007.

That was after the nation's largest bank announced far bigger-than-expected losses on mortgage-related assets and other risky debt. Under Prince's watch, Citigroup built up its exposure to mortgage and consumer credit markets and he was paid handsomely for the effort.

At Merrill Lynch, O'Neal's pay package for his final year as a CEO was $46.4 million.

He was forced out in October 2007 following the investment bank's disclosure of $7.9 billion in unexpected losses related to the credit market turmoil.

His severance package of stock, options and retirement benefits built up over a 21-year career was valued at the time at $161 million. The market's downturn since then has driven the value down to about $66.5 million.

Merrill Lynch investors have had to face $30.5 billion in writedowns and reported losses of nearly $17 billion in the three full fiscal quarters since O'Neal left.

Earlier this month, Merrill's weakening financial condition forced it into a takeover by Bank of America, with an acquisition price of $29 a share – less than half what it was a year ago.

At Wachovia, Thompson was ousted by the bank's board in June after a series of missteps, the most pronounced being his purchase of a California mortgage lender for roughly $25 billion at the height of the nation's housing boom.

Thompson's total pay package for last year was nearly $16 million.


Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you that public schools should be run on the "business model."

***************
P.S. Another Koch-funded, anti-any-tax, global-warming-denying group is Americans For Prosperity. It's worth noting that District 8 state board of education candidate Dennis Hedke is an ardent supporter of AFP.

John Timmer Reviews Explore Evolution

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

The short version: the Discovery Institute's Explore Evolution textbook is "wildly inappropriate for use in a science classroom."

The long version: you'll have to read it all for the excruciating details.

I would like to emphasize one thing in Timmer's review - something that has been bothering me ever since I first encountered the claim that Explore Evolution uses "the inquiry-based approach to teach modern evolutionary theory."

My initial thought was that the authors of the text were obviously unfamiliar with inquiry-based learning, and that this had to be another instance of anti-evolutionists using a snappy catch-phrase to promote their product.

Inquiry-based learning involves students doing investigations over extended periods of time that allow them to acquire and utilize scientific process skills in context. Through inquiry-based learning, students learn how to conduct scientific investigations in situations that have personal meaning to them and in ways that help them to understand the value of science as inquiry. Inquiry investigations also require students to apply the evidence gained through experimentation to develop and revise their own explanations for scientific phenomena. After students analyze and synthesize the data from their investigations, inquiry-based learning involves students communicating the results of their investigations to their peers. Through asking questions and obtaining answers, students also develop knowledge of science content.

In other words, inquiry-based learning cannot be implemented simply by having students read a textbook.

Thankfully, Timmer expressed my thoughts even better than I could:

...Discovery faces at least one very significant challenge in its anti-evolution campaign: evolution is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community because the evidence for it is extensive and comprehensive. Taking on that evidence runs the risk of simply emphasizing its significance, so EE maneuvers its way around this roadblock by using (and abusing) an approach to teaching called inquiry-based learning (IBL).

IBL avoids the rote memorization endemic in past science classes by having a teacher guide students through a limited version of the scientific process. Students are given a question or problem, provided with the opportunity to obtain information and data relevant to that problem, and then guided through the process of analyzing that information and reaching conclusions based on it. This isn't an "anything goes" approach to science education, though-teachers and lesson plans play an extremely important role in ensuring the students obtain accurate and relevant information and adhere to the rules of logic when drawing conclusions based on it. After all, it's not a good educational method if students come out of it deciding that the force of gravity is random or unmeasurable.

Trained professionals can lead students through IBL exercises. EE gives its authors the chance to determine what information is relevant for students in order to apply IBL to evolution, taking the teachers and professional educators out of the equation. It neatly dodges the issue of the vast evidence that has led to the acceptance of evolution by the scientific community; the book's introduction says that the students will see that in their normal textbooks anyway, so EE's authors can simply present an abbreviated version of mainstream science.

Perhaps more significantly, it omits the entire process of assisting students in reaching a conclusion. It divides evolution into a series of topics that are discussed separately. Each topic includes a case for standard science, a reply to it, and then a further discussion area, where it switches back and forth between the two. The text assiduously avoids suggesting that any conclusion can be reached at all. At best, it could be described as a partial implementation of IBL, if it weren't for the atrocious presentation of scientific information it contains...

So it appears that I was right. Explore Evolution does not implement an authentic inquiry-based approach. This is just another attempt to use a catchy phrase to dress up the same old anti-evolution arguments.

We're all familiar with that strategy:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqNH-Hnsfgg]

Funding, values, and the Kansas State Board of Education

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

The race to determine who represents District 6 on the Kansas State Board of Education promises to be a close one. Democrat Christopher Renner is challenging one-term incumbent conservative Republican Kathy Martin in November's general election.

The litmus test this year seems to be the issue of the state science standards: how should they evolve? Martin, a staunch opponent of evolution, stated in May of 2005, "We are not going to give up until the standards say what we want them to say." She is also on the record as stating that her pro-science opponent, Renner, does not have "the values north-central Kansas citizens want guiding education for children." Martin also claimed in a fund-raising letter,

"I fully expect that every Democratic and left-leaning group in the state (and even some from beyond our borders) will weigh in on his behalf to try to defeat me."

However, campaign finance reports paint a starkly contrasting picture.

Fully 81% of Renner's contributions come from north-central Kansas' 6th District, while Martin's constituents have provided only 28% of Martin's financial support over the past 4 years.

According to Martin's campaign finance statements from July and October of 2004 and July 2008, $24,034 of the $34,024 in itemized contributions she raised - almost 3/4 - came from outside her district.

On the other hand, Renner's campaign finance statement shows that only $1375 of the $7281 he's raised - or less than 1/5 - has come from outside the 6th District.

These numbers show that Martin's base of support lies outside her own district. Major contributors to her campaigns include Intelligent Design Network founder John Calvert and his wife of Lake Quivira, and the F.A.I.R. (Free Academic Inquiry and Research Committee) PAC, a branch of the Kansas Republican Assembly from Topeka. The F.A.I.R. PAC is part of an incestuous network of state and federal PACs such as the Kansas Republican Victory Funds, all of which share the same post office box and treasurer. Other non-constituent contributors were IDNet's William Harris, fellow anti-evolution state board members Ken Willard and John Bacon, Kris Van Meteren and Don Small of the Kansas Republican Assembly, and Joe Renick of New Mexico's Intelligent Design Network.

Questions about funding aren't limited to Martin's campaign contributions. According to Renner,

"What is at issue is her waste of taxpayer dollars to hold hearings, which sought to impose a religious ideology on all Kansas children in the guise of science. What is at issue is her hiring a totally unqualified person as Commissioner of Education and wasting taxpayer dollars by giving him a golden parachute when the conservatives lost control in 2006; and, what is at issue is her being nothing but a pawn in a much larger effort by ideological outsiders to override the voice of 6th District Kansans. Talk about not representing north-central Kansas values!"

I wonder . . . how can Martin justify attacking her opponent for a characteristic he doesn't have, but she does?

*****
Data from:
Martin July 2004 statement
Martin October 2004 statement
Martin July 2008 statement
Renner July 2008 statement

Dr. McLeroy Gets to the Root of the Problem

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Dr. Don McLeroy is a dentist from Bryan, Texas and the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Back in early August, McLeroy wrote an opinion piece in which he attempted to drill down to the root of the problem with modern science: its reliance on natural explanations.

If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truth-not a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.

McLeroy's proposed solution to the problem is a relatively straightforward reconstructive procedure. Citing the definition of science put forth in Science, Evolution, and Creationism by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), McLeroy formulated a simple surgical plan: extract the word "natural" from in front of the word "explanations" and fill in the gap with the word "testable."

As a result of this change, Texas students would be free to explore an amalgam of natural and supernatural explanations in their science classes. At least that's what McLeroy would prefer:

Science must limit itself to testable explanations not natural explanations. Then the supernaturalist will be just as free as the naturalist to make testable explanations of natural phenomena. The view with the best explanation of the empirical evidence should prevail.

Unfortunately for Dr. McLeroy, he is apparently unaware that "natural explanations" and "testable explanations" are one and the same in science.

Don't take my word for it. Immediately prior to the definition of science that McLeroy cited, the authors of Science, Evolution, and Creationism wrote this:

Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable - there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing.

Upon closer examination, Dr. McLeroy's proposal turns out to be a lot like brushing your teeth right before eating a meal. In the end, you're right back where you started. Simply replacing the word "natural" with the word "testable" does not fill the explanatory cavities left behind by supernatural explanations.

Indeed, Dr. McLeroy might as well start recommending Twizzlers as an alternative to dental floss.

It would make about as much sense.

Applause For Texas Draft Science Standards

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), recently applauded the proposed changes to the Texas science curriculum standards. In a statement released yesterday, Miller identified the essential question that should be at the heart of this process - What is best for Texas students?

"These work groups have crafted solid standards that provide a clear road map to a 21st-century science education for Texas students. These common-sense standards respect the right of families to pass on their own religious beliefs to their children while ensuring that public schools give students a sound science education that prepares them to succeed in college and the jobs of the future."

Why are some Texans concerned that their state BOE is not looking out for the best interests of students? Because some members of the Texas Board have already demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the expertise of the professional educators appointed to revise curriculum.

Earlier this year, the State Board of Education rejected nearly three years of work by TEA work groups that drafted new curriculum standards for English/language arts and reading. The board approved a final standards document patched together overnight and circulated to other board members just hours before the final vote.

Board of Education members advancing their own agendas on the taxpayer's dollar? Here in Kansas, we know all about that.

Miller and her TFN colleagues recognize that another battle over science standards in Texas will benefit no one, especially not those who should matter most.

"It's time for state board members to listen to classroom teachers and true experts instead of promoting their own personal agendas. Our students can't succeed with a 19th-century science education in their 21st-century classrooms. We applaud the science work groups for recognizing that fact."

The gauntlet has been thrown . . .

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

A committee of Texas scientists and science teachers has recommended the "strengths and weaknesses" language in the current Texas state science standards for extinction.

Creationist state board of education chairman Don McLeroy objects strenuously, of course. Keeping that language enables the state board to reject any biology textbooks which do not include the purported "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution.

The current language so beloved by McLeroy, a dentist, reads

The student is expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.

The experts in science and science teaching want to replace that language with

The student is expected to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.

Why would McLeroy and his Discovery Institute supporters object to the latter?

In the first place, the "strengths and weaknesses" language would allow pseudo-scientific textbooks like the Discovery Institute's Explore Evolution to be adopted statewide. (Awww, how cute . . . its name mimics the names of some highly-regarded websites that really do explore evolution. Those ID folks just don't seem to learn that they can re-label their books and concepts as many times as they want; it doesn't change the fact they're putting new lipstick on the same ol' pig.) Statewide adoptions in Texas and California drive the national textbook market, so the DI folks could get a huge financial and ideological boost by keeping the McLeroy-approved language.

Getting rid of the "strengths and weaknesses" language and requiring students to use "empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing" to evaluate scientific explanations would naturally reject the supernaturally-inspired ideas that McLeroy and his friends want to have taught as science in Texas. Given the dearth of intelligent design research, and the DI's apparent abhorrence for evidence, reasoning, and testing, it's to be expected that the DI will object to the proposed language.

Like his ever-so-arrogant ideological kin in Kansas, McLeroy seeks to change the definition of science itself. McLeroy would like to see his own definition of science pushed onto Texas students. According to the Austin American-Statesman, McLeroy defines science as

'the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.' Also, 'science is not the only way of knowing and understanding. But science is a way of knowing that differs from other ways in its dependence on empirical evidence and testable explanations.

On the other hand, the committee of scientists and science teachers who were given the task of writing the science standards agree with the National Academy of Sciences:

"Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods. Scientific explanations are open to testing under different conditions, over time, and by independent scientific researchers. ... "

This brewing storm might make Texas residents wish for the return of Ike. At least hurricanes can't be blamed on the capriciousness of a dentist who wants to remake science in his own image.

Science Cafe Hays – upcoming

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Image by
Brendan Arnold

Ready for more fun with informal science? Set aside the evening of Wednesday, October 8, for a stimulating discussion on "Satellites and Strange Space Clouds."

From the 9/2/2008 USA Today:

A weirdly wonderful sight appeared to astronauts aboard the International Space Station this summer - thin blue clouds hovering at the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and the void. . . . . Researchers speculate that the origin and spread of the clouds is linked to patterns of climate change associated with the modern era. But they are not ruling out a host of other possible factors, including methane, carbon dioxide, the number of meteors seeding the upper atmosphere, and even the 11-year sunspot cycle.

The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission explores Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs), also called noctilucent clouds, to find out why they form and why they are changing. Here's a great short video showing the daily progression of NLCs over the North Pole during the 2007 season. (Credit: AIM/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

Dianne Robinson is a science professor and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Science Center at Hampton University. In addition to her duties as professor, she works closely with the HU Center for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) directing three of their education and outreach programs for NASA satellite-based research missions CALIPSO, AIM, & SABER. As ISC Chair, she directs four GEOSCIENCE student and teacher outreach programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a NASA Earth Systems Science online course for teachers and undergraduates. Prior to becoming a professor, Dianne taught science to grades 5-12. She has a PhD in Science Education from the University of Iowa.

Sponsored by the FHSU Science and Mathematics Education Center, Cafe Semolino's, and Kansas Citizens for Science. Also found on Facebook and MySpace. (An account of last week's Cafe is here.)

Quiz for Texans!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

How well do you know your Texas state board of education members?

The Texas Education Blog posted this quiz at their site earlier, so I thought it might be fun to adapt it. Go ahead, try it, and learn more about the folks who'll be making your state famous in a coupla months as they work to de-evolve your state science standards. Again.

Meanwhile, you can console yourselves with the thought that if the Kansas state school board elections go kablooie, you won't be the laughingstock for long.

Send me some good questions and I'll put together a quiz for Kansas state board members, past, present, and wannabe.

“First ever science cafe exceeds expectations”

Friday, September 19th, 2008

From Andrew Bauer at the Fort Hays State University Leader (sorry, no online version):

It's very nice to see this many people come out and hear about science, especially on a weeknight" - FHSU geosciences professor John Heinrichs

The door count was 61 and included students, faculty, and Hays-area residents who worked this event into their busy schedules. Heinrichs led off with a presentation entitled "What's the Deal with our Polar Ice Caps?"

The crowd (and yes, it was crowded) showed a lot of interest in the topic as they asked John & each other questions about the polar regions, climate change, energy, and the best way to handle some of our current and upcoming energy challenges.

In typical scientist fashion, Heinrichs admitted that "we don't even know how the polar regions work yet. We're still discovering things." On the other hand, Heinrichs noted that last year marked the worst coverage of the poles ever since that information has been recorded.

Last year in September was the first time in all of recorded history that the northwest passage was completely open. You could literally take a sailboat from the Atlantic to the Pacific by going north." - Heinrichs

Last October, Chris Mooney warned an audience of 170+ in Hays that since most of the world's population is concentrated near coastlines, higher sea levels would cause millions of people to settle elsewhere. Heinrichs reiterated that sentiment, noting that low-lying Asia is the most populous part of the world and that re-settlement would be accompanied by political and social unrest.

The message of personal responsibility came through loud and clear. Heinrichs concluded by pointing out that it doesn't matter who is elected president this fall, because no government policies would take effect for a few years yet. Instead, he emphasized that each person should practice green living and convince their friends and family to do likewise.

Then came the really fun part . . .

The floor was opened up for discussion and questions, and it got lively and heated! As Bauer noted in the Leader,

"I was surprised by the energy displayed by people during the discussion, which I thought was my favorite part this evening." - Steve Trout, Hays resident

We had Hippie Lady in the back who didn't need the PA system to be heard, and was probably the most vocal participant. We had Retired Man 1 and Retired Man 2, who argued - er, discussed - why the US should bother with cap and trade when China's CO2 output continues to rise. There was the Man With A Slavic Accent who noted that European citizens enjoy the same or better standard of living as those in the US, yet Europeans drive vehicles that get more than 35 mpg while we remain addicted to our SUVs. A Brave Blonde student asked, "what can we do about this?" There was applause for Hippie Lady's response - "This is how it starts. You're here, you care. Spread the word!"

The evening was brought to a close with a trivia contest; winners received science t-shirts and Planet Earth stress balls.

The post-session surveys indicated that the best part of the evening was the discussion, the fact that is was offered, and that the topic was time-sensitive. An area needing improvement was acoustics. Topic suggestions for future cafe's included energy, science's influence on health care policy, HAARP, black-footed ferrets, and bioethics. Most felt they had the chance to contribute and discuss, except for one respondent who thought the Hippie Lady dominated. (She did, some.)

The FHSU Science and Mathematics Institute was the main sponsor for this event. Director Paul Adams noted that

"This is open to the community at-large whether they are on campus or off-campus. It's a great place for the campus community to interact with the greater Hays-area community."

Thanks also to Cafe Semolino's for the space, and to Kansas Citizens for Science for their moral support!

Intelligent Design is “Da Bomb”

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I have been teaching teenagers using Biology as my medium for about nine years. Over that time period, I have gradually lost touch with the younger generation. I have trouble making sense out of both "txt spk" and "LOLspeak." I barely know Kanye West from Key West. I find myself having to visit the NetLingo website more and more often.

I'm an out-of-touch old person. (gasp!)

Of course I knew it would happen. All teachers eventually reach the point where they are no longer able to understand or appreciate the fashion, music, and social predilections of the students they work with. In particular, my knowledge of acceptable slang is no longer up-to-date.

The other day, I proved this sad fact to myself and some of my students. We were outside tagging monarch butterflies for the Monarch Watch, when I described the experience of netting a previously tagged monarch as "da bomb." The students laughed and assured me that, "Nobody says that anymore."

How does this story relate to the content of this blog?

Find out below the fold.


Recently, the Brunswick County School Board in North Carolina had a lively discussion about a curriculum issue. The Board members unanimously expressed their support for the teaching of an alternative explanation alongside evolution in science classes.

What exactly were they talking about?

According to reports, the Brunswick County School Board members were all talking about good old "Creationism." From the StarNewsOnline article linked above:

"It's really a disgrace for the state school board to impose evolution on our students without teaching creationism," county school board member Jimmy Hobbs said at Tuesday's meeting. "The law says we can't have Bibles in schools, but we can have evolution, of the atheists."

So whatever happened to "Intelligent Design?"

I guess nobody says that anymore.

Science Café, western Kansas style

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Just a brief blurb, I will add more later, but . . .

61 attendees! From a town of 20,000!!!

Discussion was lively and passionate.

“Vatican evolution congress to exclude creationism, intelligent design”

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Carol Glatz of the Catholic News Service reports from Vatican City: (my bolding)

Speakers invited to attend a Vatican-sponsored congress on the evolution debate will not include proponents of creationism and intelligent design, organizers said.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific" and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

He said arguments "that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite" supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

The Times Online also notes that

The debate . . . . is said to have the full blessing of Pope Benedict, a fervent advocate of what he views as the compatibility of faith with reason.

Kudos to the Pope for blessing a conference which doesn't recognize creationism or intelligent design as scientific ideas, despite the best efforts of the Discovery Institute to spin Pope Benedict's opinion the other way.

So the Catholic Church doesn't recognize ID as either science OR philosophy OR theology? Does this mean that the Church recognizes it for what it is? - A sneaky attempt by a particular Christian sect to get their teachings forced on everyone else's kids.

On the other hand, note that

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the other extreme of the evolution debate -- proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection -- also were not invited.

I guess this means neither PZ nor Dawkins will be invited.

Science Debate 2008 – Questions and Answers

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Well, it's not exactly a debate, but at least you can compare Barack Obama's and John McCain's answers to fourteen questions about scientific and technological policy challenges.

Polls clearly show that Americans are much more likely to vote for a candidate that will support scientific research.




Voters now have a useful information source to inform their decision on November 4.

Kudos to all of the people involved with Science Debate 2008.

Science Café – the Kansas debut

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Do news reports touting the latest cures seem contradictory? Are you leery of well-coiffed pundits telling you what to think about science issues?

If so, you'll delight in Science Café Semolino's! At our Science Café you can learn about the latest topics in science . . . chat with a scientist in plain language . . . meet new friends . . . speak your mind . . . talk with your mouth full . . . and win a free Science Café Semolino's t-shirt!

Our inaugural speaker will be this year's FHSU Presidential Scholar John Heinrichs. John will share his up-close-and-chilly experiences with sea ice and lead us in lively discussions of global climate change. Future topics in this monthly series include observing changes in the mysterious noctilucent clouds, astronomy v astrology, evolution, the Large Hadron Collider, prehistoric monsters of Kansas, microbiology, bioethics, shrinking glaciers, and alternative energy.

Please join us on Tuesday, September 16, 7pm-ish at Café Semolino's, in Hays at 110 W. 11th Street to kick off this monthly series. In the meantime, visit Science Café Semolino's on Facebook, or contact sciencecafehays (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.

This series is sponsored by FHSU's Science and Mathematics Education Institute, Kansas Citizens for Science, and Cafe Semolino's.

God Hates Nags

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Most recently, Kathy Martin's Democratic challenger for the Kansas State Board of Education, Chris Renner, has been the target of hatemail. He says, "Thus far the hate mail has all been about my support for science and evolution. This is the first time my sexual orientation has been brought into question. I figured it would get nasty. I just want to know how nasty the religious bigots are going to get." Here's the latest one he received, posted at his Facebook site:

from: phillip chavez
to: RENNER4KSBOE@gmail.com
date: Wed, Sep 10, 2008 at 6:06 PM

Renner - you are going to be defeated this election. We don't want a sexual deviate as yourself in the State Board of Education with ANY kind of influence over our children. They call us the "right" because that's what we are. I hope you spend a tremendous amount of your own money on this election as it will all be for naught.

Sincerely,

Phillip Chavez


Yes, Chris is gay. But who isn't tired of hypocritical members of the religious right nagging the public about what happens in the privacy of our own homes? I believe God loves Chris just as much as He loves any of the rest of us, despite what Fred Phelps would have you believe.

Would a Christian opponent encourage this Phelpsian attitude from her supporters, or would she work to discredit those who send such emails?



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