Despite our best efforts, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. This is terrible news for our nation’s public schools. Those of us concerned about science education will have to pour our efforts into protecting our schools on a local and state level. We’ll also have to push hard for accountability. Just because DeVos was confirmed doesn’t mean she gets free rein to destroy our schools. She now has a responsibility to provide all of America’s children with a quality free primary education, and we will hold her to that.
My friend J.S. recently retired from a twenty-eight year career as a teacher at one of our nation’s public schools. He has some sage advice for DeVos. I hope she hears it, and takes it to heart. Please feel free to copy this open letter and send it directly to her.
The Senate will be holding confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos on January 17th. If you care about America’s public schools, if you think all of our kids should have a solid education, and if you want to prevent religious indoctrination from being subsidized by the federal government, now is the time to call your senator and make your voice heard.
I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.
Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.
For a while, now, I’ve planned a series on the kind of creationists who like to run around calling themselves geologists and invade GSA meetings under false pretenses. People like “Stone Stubborn” Steven Austin, who does real geology only to the extent it gives him a Trojan Horse into professional journals and meetings. These smarmy barstards have a distressing tendency to lie by omission, trying to lure actual geologists into associating with them by pretending they’re legit. Then they tell their fundie flocks they’ve presented their work professionally, therefore their creationist crap is SCIENCE. Only, they fail to mention it wasn’t open and avowed creation science they were presenting to the professionals, but innocuous mainstream stuff.
But, you know, they’re kinda clownish, and I can just hear people poo-poohing their danger to the scientific community. Nobody outside of a handful of fundie freaks takes these Young Earth Creationist douchebags seriously, right? We’re not at risk like biology is, yo. No one’s boarding school boards trying to muck with the geology curriculum, so let the rabbits wear glasses and Steve Austin play totes legit geologist to the church-addicted crowd.
Ohai, it’s back to school time, innit? I’ve polished up an ancient essay on how awesome science is and posted it at Rosetta Stones. It hasn’t any naughty words in it, so you teachers can even foist it upon your students who are grumbling about ew, ick, why do we have to science, it steals all the mystery and it is haard. I have also found an outstanding photo of the Milky Way over Mount Rainier for your viewing pleasure.
I also got to see Silver Fox today! She had a long layover, so we skedaddled out of the airport and visited Seahurst Park. I’ll show you some pictures from it tomorrow, once I have edited them. Then I took my elderly kitty outside because she has been bored. She spent nearly the whole time trying to figure out how to get around the table I had blocking the bridge and make a break for it.
When I was in middle school back in the olden days (hint: it was just after leg warmers went out and hypercolor shirts came in), I had this t-shirt that had a cartoon duck on it. It said “Tall, Duck and Handsome.” I’d done some growing, so it was a little short – it skimmed the top of my jeans, and like an inch of belly was exposed when I raised my arms. This was too much for the puritans of our local school district, who pulled me out of class, called my mom, and told her that such skimpy clothing was not allowed on awkward prepubescent girls.
My mother, who was something of a warrior, read them the riot act. She belted them with facts: we were still little kids. The shirt was cute and funny, not sexy. The shirt covered pretty much everything unless I raised my arms overhead, and if they couldn’t handle that little bit of skin, that was their problem. She had them quaking by the end of her tirade. I think they were about to give up and send me back to class, but she pulled me out of school and took me to have either ice cream or lunch – unfortunately, my memory fades on that point. We had a nice mother-daughter day, and I knew from then onward that my mom would always have my back in battles over dress codes. When they divorced, my dad took over the not giving a shit and expecting other people to accept my sartorial choices. When people would ask him how he could possibly let me wear x, y, or z, he’d calmly explain to them that I was comfortable and creative, and if they had a problem, they’d have to deal with it their own damn selves.
It’s been almost a decade since the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial put Intelligent Design on the witness stand and unmasked it as the religion-lite pseudoscience it is. The repercussions still resonate. It’s very difficult for this nonsense to get footing within schools when an actual Republican judge appointed by none other than George W Bush hisownself has declared it foolishness. You expect blatantly religious claptrap to get struck down by courts no matter the figleaf it wears. But to have a conservative Lutheran judge demolish it sans mercy, issuing an opinion that gave it an unrestrained verbal flailing worthy of the most godless heathen – that was divine.