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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Darwinists misinterpret significance of Santorum Amendment

The Darwinists have misinterpreted the significance of the Santorum Amendment that was proposed for the No Child Left Behind Act and have falsely accused Cheri Yecke, the No. 2 education official in the Florida state government, of misinterpreting this amendment four years ago when she was a Minnesota state education official. These false accusations of Yecke are presented in articles written by Wesley Elsberry for the Austringer and Panda's Thumb blogs and are also in a Miami Herald news article.

The history of the Santorum Amendment is as follows, from none other than the National Center for Science Education (an http version is here):

On June 13, 2001, the US Senate adopted a Sense of the Senate amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Authorization bill, S 1, then under consideration. Proposed by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the amendment read:

It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

. . . . .On June 14, the bill, including the Santorum Amendment, passed the Senate 91-8 . . . .

. . . Because HR 1, the version of the bill that passed in the House of Representatives, contained no counterpart of the Santorum Amendment, the House-Senate Conference Committee needed to reconsider it when it met to reconcile the two versions of the bill . . .

In December 2001, the joint committee finished its work. The compromise bill was submitted to Congress, which passed it (renaming it the No Child Left Behind Act in the process) and sent it to President Bush for his signature, which it duly received on January 8, 2002.

The good news is twofold. First, the Santorum Amendment was substantially weakened during its stay in committee, eventually appearing in the following two sentences:

The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.

. . . . Second, the Santorum Amendment, even in its weakened form, is not present in the bill that was signed into law. It appears only in the Conference Report, buried deep in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference in Title I, Part A, as item 78. The Joint Explanatory Statement is not part of the bill itself; it is simply an explanation of how the conference committee reconciled the various provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill. The law itself neither mentions evolution nor includes any sentiments reflecting the Santorum Amendment. Thus, the No Child Left Behind Act in no way requires teachers to teach evolution any differently.

The Santorum Amendment's history as told by Answers In Genesis is here.

The following facts are noteworthy:

(1) By a lopsided majority of 91-8, the full Senate adopted the Santorum Amendment into the Senate version of the bill as a separate amendment. It was not part of a take-it-or-leave-it package deal. BTW, it seems odd that an amendment that passed in the Senate by 91-8 was not considered in the House.

(2) The full House never had a chance to vote on whether to include the Santorum Amendment in the final bill -- the decision to not include the amendment in the final bill was made only by the House-Senate conference committee.

(3) I don't see how the Santorum Amendment's language was "substantially weakened" in the House-Senate conference report -- the original and final versions appear to me to say substantially the same things. The final version even "singles out" evolution, just like the original version, though not to the same degree as the original version. Also, I think that these two versions show the ineffectiveness of word-count computer programs in determining the degree of similarity in the ideas presented in two different texts -- I think that these programs would falsely indicate that there is little similarity in these two versions. These word-count programs were used extensively in the controversy over the charge that the ID-as-science section of Judge Jones' Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion was virtually ghostwritten by the ACLU.

(4) The No Child Left Behind Act does not -- as Wesley Elsberry falsely implied -- require or authorize withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that require, allow, or do not prohibit the teaching of intelligent design or other criticisms of Darwinism. Nor does the Act require or authorize withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that do not require or that prohibit the teaching of intelligent design or other criticisms of Darwinism. The Act itself is neutral in regard to the issue of teaching criticisms of Darwinism. The Santorum Amendment language in the House-Senate conference report was just an insignificant sop to the "fundies" (the name that Darwinists like to give to Darwin-doubters).

(5) The courts generally consider Congressional reports to be important in interpreting laws. For example, in Blum v. Stenson 465 US 886 (1984), a Senate report was the sole basis of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that plaintiffs' attorney fee awards in civil rights cases may not be reduced on the basis that the legal representation is from a non-profit organization (I presume that the ruling also applies to legal representation that is initially pro bono). IMO the court misinterpreted that Senate report but that is beside the point. It may not seem fair that the courts often rely on Congressional reports, considering that (1) the reports are not voted upon by the full Congress, Senate, or House -- these reports are often produced just by committees, and (2) that the reports are not read by many of the members of Congress, who can't vote on the reports' contents anyway. Justice Scalia in particular is opposed to reliance on Congressional reports. 9th circuit appeals court judge Alex Kozinski said in a speech made in 1990,

Scalia has already had a major impact on the way courts look at legislative history. As we all know, and as we will discuss further tomorrow morning, Scalia takes a rather extreme view of the matter -- he refuses to look at it at all because he considers it irrelevant and unreliable: It is irrelevant because Congress passes laws, not legislative histories -- the law is what is written, not what some congressman said on the stump; and it is unreliable because congressmen knowingly litter the record with comments saying one thing or another about the meaning of the bill in the hopes that some unwary Supreme Court justice will glom on to their viewpoint, whether or not it truly represents an issue Congress had considered or decided.

Now has Scalia managed to persuade his colleagues, or even most federal judges, to go cold turkey on legislative history? Have lawyers stopped citing it? Of course not. But the fact is, legislative history just ain't worth what it was a few years ago. It used to be that you would get briefs and opinions that started and ended with legislative history, never once mentioning the text of the statutes they were purporting to interpret. Such things are much rarer these days. Scalia's constant carping on the matter has simply made it more difficult for judges and lawyers to avoid such annoying technicalities as the statutory language.
(page 6 of pdf file)

Anyway, in the case of the Santorum Amendment language in the House-Senate committee's report, there are no "annoying technicalities" in the statutory language because the Act itself does not address the issue of evolution education. As I said, the Santorum Amendment language in the report was just an insignificant sop to the "fundies."

Now the problem is that no one can post any of the above stuff on the Austringer or Panda's Thumb blogs because it will be censored. Wesley "Ding" Elsberry has already censored comments on Panda's Thumb that tend to show that Cheri Yecke did not misinterpret the No Child Left Behind Act or the Santorum Amendment's significance.
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10 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

You seem to have misinterpreted the significance of the Santorum Amendment.

> Now the problem is that no one can post any of the above stuff on the Austringer or Panda's Thumb blogs because it will be censored.<

"No one". There is no evidence of that. You can't post it because you have been banned because of outrageous behavior.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 8:42:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Now the problem is that no one can post any of the above stuff on the Austringer or Panda's Thumb blogs because it will be censored. <

"No one". There is no evidence of that. <<<<<<<

ViW, why don't you try posting this stuff on Elsberry's blogs and see how far you get.

Thursday, July 05, 2007 4:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> ViW, why don't you try posting this stuff on Elsberry's blogs and see how far you get. <

I do regularly under my own name. The difference is that I don't blather and repeat myself endlessly or insult those who disagree with me. You should try it and you wouldn't be banned all over the net.

Friday, July 06, 2007 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> ViW, why don't you try posting this stuff on Elsberry's blogs and see how far you get. <

I do regularly under my own name. <<<<<<<

But you couldn't post the above stuff under your own name (whatever that is) or any other name. It would be censored.

Why don't you try to prove me wrong.

>>>>>> The difference is that I don't blather and repeat myself endlessly or insult those who disagree with me. <<<<<<<

So you think that Fatheaded Ed Brayton and Sleazy PZ Myers don't insult those who disagree with them. As Fatheaded Ed would say, "for crying out loud, that is batshit wingnuttery."

Friday, July 06, 2007 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The No Child Left Behind Act does not -- as Wesley Elsberry falsely implied -- require or authorize withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that require, allow, or do not prohibit the teaching of intelligent design or other criticisms of Darwinism.

I read the linked article, but didn't find the implication you said was there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> I read the linked article, but didn't find the implication you said was there. <<<<<

You're kidding -- here is what the linked article said:

It isn’t because there is an explicit power involved; it’s because the federal government can withhold federal funds from schools that do not comply with things such as the “No Child Left Behind” act. Any school that has no use for such federal funding can, of course, tell the federal government to go get stuffed concerning those particular federal programs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not kidding. There's nothing in what you quoted that implies that NCLB requires or authorizes the federal government to lift funding from schools over the status of teaching ID or other criticism of Darwinism. The issue was a state representative saying that schools had to comply with federal law. It appears that you objected that there was no power to enforce a school's compliance with a federal law. The response refers to federal laws "such as" NCLB, not just NCLB. It certainly is the case that NCLB and other such laws about education provide for reducing federal funding to school systems that are not in compliance. The point being made has nothing to do with the specific issue of teaching or not teaching ID, and nothing within the quote shows anything toward that.

Try something different.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> There's nothing in what you quoted that implies that NCLB requires or authorizes the federal government to lift funding from schools over the status of teaching ID or other criticism of Darwinism. <<<<<

Do you know what the word "implies" means? It means something that is not explicitly stated but is strongly hinted at. You are too obtuse to see an obvious hint.

>>>>>> The issue was a state representative saying that schools had to comply with federal law. It appears that you objected that there was no power to enforce a school's compliance with a federal law. The response refers to federal laws "such as" NCLB, not just NCLB. It certainly is the case that NCLB and other such laws about education provide for reducing federal funding to school systems that are not in compliance <<<<<<

What "other such laws"? Only the NCLB was being discussed -- no one mentioned other laws. And neither the NCLB nor any other law that I am aware of requires or authorizes withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that do not teach Darwinism or that require or do not prohibit the teaching of criticisms of Darwinism.

And what you said my quote did not imply you also said is true -- "It certainly is the case that NCLB and other such laws about education provide for reducing federal funding to school systems that are not in compliance."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 8:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are too obtuse to see an obvious hint.

You are too ready to see a non-existent connection.

no one mentioned other laws

The state representative said "federal law," the quote says "such as," and you yourself apparently posed your objection in terms of powers of the federal government generally. Unless NCLB is the only federal law out there, you lose that one.

And what you said my quote did not imply you also said is true -- "It certainly is the case that NCLB and other such laws about education provide for reducing federal funding to school systems that are not in compliance."

Not in compliance doesn't mean that it has anything to do with teaching or not teaching ID, which is your invention. So far, you are batting zero on showing that your 'teaching or not teaching ID' idea is anywhere near what was being discussed concerning whether the state representative had any worries over complying with federal law.

Or don't you care about accuracy?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 8:10:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> The state representative said "federal law," the quote says "such as," and you yourself apparently posed your objection in terms of powers of the federal government generally. Unless NCLB is the only federal law out there, you lose that one. <<<<<<<

I have lost nothing.

What do you mean, "and you yourself apparently posed your objection in terms of powers of the federal government generally"? I don't even know what in the hell I said because Ding Elsberry deleted my comment and I can't remember what I said.

I am not interested in arguing over who is to blame for the misunderstanding here. I just want to know what federal law(s) that state representative was referring to if not the NCLB. The TV show transcript, which I show below, makes it clear that he was talking about the NCLB. Both he and Cheri Yecke specifically mentioned the conference committee's report accompanying the NCLB and he did not say that he was talking about some other federal law(s).

>>>>>> Not in compliance doesn't mean that it has anything to do with teaching or not teaching ID, which is your invention. So far, you are batting zero on showing that your 'teaching or not teaching ID' idea is anywhere near what was being discussed concerning whether the state representative had any worries over complying with federal law. <<<<<<<

Not "anywhere near what was being discussed"? Here is the transcript of the TV broadcast -- they were specifically talking about the NCLB and teaching ID:

Host: How much internal debate was there in the department over creationism versus evolution?

CPY: Well, creationism is off the table completely because of a 1987 supreme court ruling. The issue really is intelligent design and evolution and the there was language that was put in the conference committee report that accompanied the no child left behind act that said you know students should be exposed to all sides of a controversial issue. And we brought that up to the committee members because we didn’t want to see this just evolve into a controversy. We spent a lot of time on the math committee just just talking about the use of calculators, and time is precious, so we wanted to make sure that we stopped any kind of controversy at the beginning. And it is well understood now that this is a decision that would be made by local school boards and not the state.

JD: What the commissioner is failing to mention [undecipherable] is that the Santorum amendment that she refers to never passed into law. And Minnesota has to follow federal law, not, uh, amendments that were offered in conference committees at the federal level.

CPY: But I would beg to differ with you, representative Davnie, because the conference committee report when I worked at the department of education, that and the congressional record is what we used to inform our policy-making. That was the intent of congress, and it came forward in a document that’s about this thick I would have brought it tonight if I knew we were going to discuss it, and it’s there as a way to give guidance to the states so that we can tell local school districts what what (sic) is and is not permissible and what they can do.

JD: The risk we run here is weakening Minnesota science curriculum. […]


>>>>>> Or don't you care about accuracy? <<<<<<

You are the one who doesn't care about accuracy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 9:35:00 AM  

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