Creationism, Accreditation, and Higher Education

ScienceBloging Greg Laden reports that the Texas Board of Higher Education is considering accrediting The Texas Based Institute for Creation Research so it could offer an online course in Science Education.

ScienceBlogling PZ offers one solution to stop the inanity (or at least limit the damage if Texas proceeds):

I hope Texas scientists can slap that Board into wakeful reality before that meeting, because if this goes through, the trust I can give Texas-trained teachers is getting flushed right down the sewer. And if Texans can’t fix this, the rest of the country has to step up and deny certification to anyone trained in Texas — their diplomas and degrees will be worth about as much as Monopoly money.

That’s one approach, and a good one. A while ago, I remarked that the educational battles over evolution need to be viewed as political, and not scientific. The problem with that approach is that in a place like Texas, the Coalition of the Sane is rather thin on the ground, as regarding political power. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer the consequences with unqualified teachers brainwashing students with sectarian dogma in science class. So what to do?
An often absent (if not AWOL) force in the evolution ‘controversy’ is higher education. I’ve noted before how, particularly at the administrative levels, they’ve been let off the hook regarding the creationist assault on education. We can have a significant influence on private* universities and colleges, particularly since many biologists are not only faculty at these schools, but have graduated from such schools. Imagine if a coalition of universities announced that they would consider students from Texas or those states that accept teachers certified in Texas as not having fulfilled necessary science requirements.
If that’s too draconian for you, at the very least, those students should be informed that they will be required to take mandatory remedial biology. Not introductory biology, remedial biology. Additionally, the students should be informed that their poor academic preparation will be considered when they apply. Before anyone argues that is discriminatory, universities are supposed to discriminate based on academic preparation (and they do).
The reason I’m suggesting policies that will affect students directly is because right now, there is no accountability for the decisions that creationist politicians make. Once students (and their parents) have to decide between creationists spouting feel-good drivel and, well, education, those concerned with science education will be in a much stronger position. Think of it as framing with power, not words.
That’s my proposal. Discuss.
*The advantage of private institutions is that they are less susceptible, though not immune, to meddling by state and local politicians.

This entry was posted in Creationism, Education, Evolution, Framing, The War on Science. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Creationism, Accreditation, and Higher Education

  1. Anonymous says:

    So… since Texas is willing to accredit the ICR, every person coming out of Texas is suddenly thought to be stupid, and in need of remedial biology.
    Got it. That just makes perfect sense. Its not draconian at all… no…
    This is just as bad as the right wing fundamentalists who think that you can catch “teh Gay”. You just replace “teh Gay” with “teh creation science”.

  2. spootdad says:

    If this succeeds this is quite worrisome, given the great amount of influence Texas seems to have in issues driving textbooks. A more serious issue is that in my hometown we have a female school board member who is tied quite closely to creationist movements, fought extremely hard against the previous science curriculum review because it increased the emphasis on evolution, and who is continually trying to push this crap into our schools. It will be interesting to see when/whether this idea breaks on the national scene.

  3. Moopheus says:

    I think there’s a lot of sense in the idea that you’d no longer be certain that someone with a Texas teaching certificate would be qualified to teach science, or that a student coming out a Texas school had been taught proper biology. The question is, how do you make this actually happen? Can you get enough scientists and administrators at enough schools to go along with this to make a difference?

  4. John-Michael Caldaro says:

    I support your recommendations. As a secondary science teacher (Physics, Chem, Earth Science, Math) for 30+years I have seen many teachers, including those who believe in evolution, who do not emphasize conclusions based on data only. Any science teacher who does not use that principle as a premise is not preparing their students for decision making in our technological world much less preparing them for careers in science.
    Those who have recieved their credentials from a “creationist” institution definitely do not follow this principle. It is a non starter. They should not be allowed to teach our children!

  5. douchebag says:

    you sound dumb and unfuckable

  6. aguy says:

    I think the douchebag just presented a dire warning of this very issue. Douchbag is our very own canary.

  7. Bitter Scribe says:

    Couldn’t they just refuse to offer credit for this online course, or any other “creationist” class?

  8. Charles Betz says:

    Your proposition makes sense. It is sometimes difficult for us European researchers to imagine what it must be like facing the situation you’re in right now. It is a good thing that the issue is discussed properly to create a sense of awareness, and both a political an scientific pressure.

  9. Kelly says:

    Bitter Scribe,
    The online class would be taken by (prospective?) teachers — not their students. The premise is that students of these teachers that have taken creationism for science credit will be ill prepared for college in the real world. Denying credit for the online course would only affect teachers — not their students. It is unfortunate to think that students could be affected this way — but if they are not prepared for college then colleges do not have to accept them. This is especially true of private colleges that do not even have to offer remedial courses.

  10. Niki says:

    Hi Mike,
    I was searching for this kind of a blog for months now. Actually lost the hope of finding one, but here i am Thanks for the great articles! Looking forward for a little read after lunch.Ill Bookmark this page.Thanks again.

  11. The explanation that the resistance gene was *necessarily* already present in the initial starting bacteria population can be disproved by:

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