Republican SBOE Candidates Duke It Out

Republican candidates for Cynthia Dunbar’s District 10 Texas State Board of Education seat met over the weekend at a public forum in Georgetown. It appears that evolution and sex education were among the hottest topics of discussion, according to the online Williamson County Conservative Examiner. (Hat tip to TFN Insider reader abb3w for calling this to our attention.)

Austin attorney Brian Russell, the State Republican Executive Committee member recruited by Dunbar to run for the seat, explained that he believes in “intelligent design”/creationism and then trotted out the tired argument that science students should be able to “critique, evaluate, and analyze all scientific data.” Of course, no one has really argued otherwise. The issue is whether science classes will be required to teach junk science arguments against the overwhelming scientific data backing up evolution. Russell thinks they should.

Russell also argued that public schools should teach “directed abstinence,” according to the Examiner. Opponents of responsible sex education seem to have stopped using the “abstinence-only” name for programs that keep students ignorant about how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The “directed abstinence” (or “directive abstinence”) wording suggests that supporters simply want classes to insist that students remain abstinent. But everyone believes teens shouldn’t be having sex. The issue is whether schools in a state that has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation should also be providing medically accurate information about contraception and methods to prevent the spread of STDs.

Marsha Farney of Georgetown argued that schools should teach evolution “as a theory only.” She agreed with Russell on abstinence programs but called for segregating such classes by gender.

The Examiner article wasn’t quite clear about the position of teacher Rebecca Osborne of Austin on the evolution issue. According to the article, Osborne was critical of a “disconnect between the classroom and the state board” on the issue. On sex education, Osborne called for more parental involvement and “character education” classes.

Read the full Examiner article here.

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53 Comments

  1. David
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I think we all glommed onto the ID part of the original post as a way of avoiding the dicier sex issue.
    Personally, speaking from my personal experience, I’ve found prudery to be as perverse and destructive a response to our instinctive cravings as just about any “deviant” behavior.
    The little bit of study I’ve done in sociology involved functional analysis of social constructs, that is, of “manifest” functions (say, the prevention of drug addiction) and “latent” functions (the fact that the war on drugs exacerbates the problem).
    If we truly educate our children, then they can learn that sexual feelings are normal, not dirty, that it’s ok to cautiously and thoughtfully mature in our bodies, and not to abuse others or take advantage of them.
    Not nearly enough is made of male responsibility. The patriarchial, “football team” masculine culture seems to pay lip service to responsibility, but plays a lot of hypocrisy games in actual implementation.
    Your analysis of the hypocrisy surrounding abortion, etc. seems right on target.
    I think reducing abortions is an admirable goal, because it generally is rough on the female, emotionally. I don’t feel like I have the right to make her decision for her. The “creationist” discussion gets at the heart of whether “a soul” is created at the ‘moment of conception”. Even though I know better, it’s been rough on me, looking back as a middle aged man, along with the other occasions when I failed in my responsibility to my partner. We were so naive back then, about a lot of things, though, now there’s no excuse.
    We now know that it’s possible to grow into our adult sexuality and maturity in general without getting someone pregnant, passing on disease, scarring another for life, becoming addicted to sex, drugs or acohol, or any other stimulation of our “pleasure centers”. Life is never easy or perfect, or risk-free, but we’re not even coming close to using basic common sense to maintain our communities and our civilization.
    I don’t think scientists can determine answers to our moral questions. I think it’s entirely probable that amoral scientists will eventually abuse the science of genetics. I would be open to compromise with people of conventional religious faith on a culture that places individual human life and happiness above a “materialist” value system. However, it’s impossible to compromise with evangelicals because of their hypocrisy, for starters. The puppet masters behind their efforts are not really interested in the protection of humankind, only of certain privileged humans.

  2. Charles
    Posted February 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    The original TFN post was about the upcoming elections and sex education in our public schools. How did we end up talking about Darwin and evolution? I suspect Sandi Glahn first came here to talk sex education because this is a major area of interest in her own writings. Maybe we could switch over and talk about that for a while. I would be interested in what she and the rest of you have to say on that subject. I can say plenty because I have a teenage daughter in high school. Like a jump ball in basketball, please allow me to toss out a rarely engaged controversial subject about abstinence only sex education and abortion that you do not hear about much. That might be a good starting place for our discussions.

    Emile Durkheim was a famous French sociologist/anthropologist who first advanced the now universally accepted idea that human cultures have an “ideal,” which is a population’s shared valuation of how things in the culture “should be,” but there is always an underlying counterpoint theme that is divergent from the ideal. It describes “the way things really are” in the culture. The famous anthropologist Marvin Harris would go on to say that this underlying theme is the equilibrium adaptation that has developed because the ideal often deviates from what is practical and truly needed for adaptation to existing conditions in the natural and social environment. Therefore, this underlying theme may exist subliminally or subconsciously, meaning that most of the people in the culture have the “ideal” on their conscious minds while they are really doing something else subconsciously to be truly adaptive to a perceived problem or condition.

    I have often wondered whether “abstinence only” sex education is an ideal that has a much darker underlying adaptive theme. If a population practices really effective birth control, births and abortions would not be eliminated—but they would go way, way, way down. As shown by the statistics in Texas, “abstinence only” sex education may help some people, but it is associated with an unacceptably high teen pregnancy and birth rate, which is ironic and does not make much sense.

    This is where Marvin Harris would step in and say, “Well, maybe it doesn’t make much sense because there is a more important underlying adaptive theme that necessitates the continuation of “abstinence only” sex education and the fight against abortion.” As I have stated before at TFN Insider, my hypothesis is that “abstinence only” sex education and the elimination of abortion are adaptive precisely because they DO result in so many births. They provide barren white fundamentalist and evangelical couples with a steady and continuous flow of white children for adoption. Put another way, as I sometimes do for clarity and shock value, Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals outwardly despise the sin of fornication, but they are inwardly absolutely delighted with the living fruit it produces—and would like to keep the flow of adoptable white children steady and uninterrupted. As the famous science fiction novel says, “The spice must flow.!!!”

    Personally, I would like to see comprehensive sex education in our public schools and the widespread use of effective birth control methods to CHOKE OFF the need for unwanted births and abortions. The notion of a Christan fundamentalist or evangelical couple openly fighting against the sin of fornication while secretly hoping some white teenage girl will get pregnant so they can adopt her baby is in itself just as morally repugnant as the fornication and abortion.

  3. David
    Posted February 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh, you’re just supposed to accept that part of the science on fai… er… uh…um.

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