Friday, November 30, 2007

Texas science ed director resigns over ID-creationist pressure

Texas’ state science education commissioner, Chris Comer, has resigned in what she calls a forced resignation over her refusal to turn a blind eye to possible evolution and intelligent design politics and spread.

Comer, who held her position for nine years, said she believes evolution politics were behind her ousting.

“None of the other reasons they gave are, in and of themselves, firing offenses,” she said.

The Texas Education Agency put Comer on 30 days’ paid administrative leave in late October, resulting in what she described as a forced resignation.

The move came shortly after Comer forwarded an e-mail announcing a presentation being given by the author of “Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse.” In the book, author Barbara Forrest says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. Ms. Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities.

Here’s TEA’s spin:
Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral," the officials said.

The officials said that forwarding the e-mail conflicted with Ms. Comer's job responsibilities. The e-mail also violated a directive for her not to communicate with anyone outside the agency regarding the upcoming science curriculum review, officials said in the documents.

The documents show that Lizzette Reynolds, the agency's senior adviser on statewide initiatives, started the push to fire Ms. Comer over the e-mail.

"This is something that the State Board, the Governor's Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports," Ms. Reynolds said in an e-mail to Ms. Comer's supervisors.

Ms. Reynolds joined the agency in January and previously worked in the U.S. Department of Education and as a deputy legislative director during President Bush's term as governor.

Note that neither TEA officials nor Reynolds claims to have an e-mail showing Comer officially endorsed Forrest’s book. The idea that it implies endorsement of the speaker may be true in the real world, but the TEA knows it’s not legally provable.

But, that’s small potatoes.

Why WOULDN’T Comer endorse Forrest’s book indeed?

For the TEA and Reynolds to say something is wrong with that leads to the inference they see nothing wrong with creationists trying to foist intelligent design — as already rejected by federal court in Dover, Pa. — as perfectly acceptable.

And, it’s pretty clear that is exactly what they believe.