More comments about Comer
The Texas Education Agency has filed a motion to dismiss Comer's wrongful termination lawsuit. This so-called "motion to dismiss" is also partly a motion for summary judgment because it addresses the merits of the complaint as well as arguing that Comer does not have standing to sue.
IMO TEA's decision to dump Comer was a mistake. She has become a Darwinist heroine and martyr whose ouster is now being exploited to try to justify the persecution of critics of Darwinism. The National Center for Science Education even made a YouTube video about her. However, because dumping her is now a fait accompli, I think it is now necessary to justify dumping her even if dumping her was a mistake.
Comer's complaint claims that the TEA's policy of neutrality towards creationism is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard that teaching creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional. However, even assuming arguendo that the TEA has a duty to inform the public of this ruling of the Supreme Court, Comer's use of her TEA email account to forward the announcement of the Forrest lecture still does not pass muster because the lecture did not just condemn creationism but also condemned Intelligent Design, and only one federal judge ruled that teaching or mentioning ID in public school science classrooms is unconstitutional, and that ruling applies only to the Dover Area school district. Part of the forwarded announcement of the lecture said,
In her talk, Forrest will provide a detailed report on her expert testimony in the Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board trial as well as an overview of the history of the “intelligent design” movement.
Forrest's lecture is described in more detail here.
Questions concerning evolution education are topics of upcoming public hearings and the TEA has the right to have a policy of neutrality on those topics and expect TEA employees to abide by that policy. TEA employees should be officially neutral because they are civil service employees as opposed to being elected officials or political appointees. In addition to the ID issue, Comer's forwarding of the Forrest lecture announcement also compromised the TEA's image of neutrality on the following other topics that are likely to come up in the public hearings:
(1) -- whether to retain the "strengths and weaknesses" language in the state science standards -- this is now a big issue.
(2) -- whether to teach or mention non-ID criticisms of evolution.
(3) -- consideration of evolution content in the selection of biology textbooks. In Texas, the state supplies textbooks to the local school districts and there is a wide range of different ways that evolution is treated in different textbooks.
(4) -- whether to add evolution disclaimer stickers to the textbooks. This is a particularly important issue in Texas because the state provides the textbooks for the local school districts. Alabama state law requires evolution disclaimer stickers. A district court in Georgia ruled against evolution disclaimer stickers in Selman v. Cobb County, but an appeals court vacated and remanded the decision and the case was finally settled out of court.
(5) -- whether to add to the state standards a statement to the effect that evolution is central to biology, or adopt a textbook that makes such a statement. There was a big controversy over the new Florida science standards' statement that "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology," but that controversy was completely overshadowed by the controversy over whether to call evolution a "theory" in the state standards.
There once was a lady named Chris,
whose presence we surely don't miss.
She so raised our ire
that were she on fire,
upon her we wouldn't even piss.
Labels: Chris Comer