Monday, January 12, 2009

Oklahoma and Mississippi: Questionable Priorities

I've written before about how science education is absolutely critical to keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy, and how if our elected officials don't ensure that happens, we're gonners. This is doubly critical as the U.S. faces its worst economic uncertainty since the Depression. And once again, lawmakers beholden to special interests just can't wait to sell out American schoolchildren, our education system, and our future economy.

A sure way to wreck your country is to let ideology infiltrate your educational system. It happened in the Soviet Union, which saw self-induced mass starvations in the 1950s because they thought the laws of science didn't apply to them.

Meanwhile in the U.S., 2009 isn't even a month old and it's already happened in Oklahoma and Mississippi. The economy is tanking, and these guys are trying to censor textbooks. Are you kidding me? Don't mistake this for a grassroots effort; remember the Dover, PA case a couple years ago? The same special interest groups are behind all of these legislative efforts.

These legislators are not only an insult to their constituents, they're damaging Mississippi's future economy, and they're reinforcing a lot of stereotypes that blue-state Americans hold about the country's heartland. Gary Chism (R-MS) should be singled out for special recognition here. Americans are at a point in history where we really have to decide, now, whether we're serious about economic success or not, and that means do you want your kids to learn challenging material in school, or just be sent for public baby-sitting until they're 18. Of course, if you're one of those pretend conservatives who think that the GOP is about using big governments to force your values on other people's kids, then you won't have a problem with this. That's fine; it turns out you're in good company. The religious thugs that rule much of the Middle East and Africa are still telling their kids that the world is flat, and that it's evil spirits and not germs that make them sick. And I invite you to join them - in the Middle East, and far away from the United States. (Incidentally, this must explain why the Middle East and Africa have such great economies.)

If you're a moderate and you think, "Why does this matter that much?", please think of the students in China that your kids will be competing against twenty years from now - and that you will be competing against five years from now. They won't be hobbled by being taught that solar eclipses are caused by dragons swallowing the sun; they used to believe that, and they got over it. One thing that China does not censor is science education, and it's showing already.

Conservatives, ask yourself honestly: In 2012, will the GOP win back the White House and Congress if it's stuck with fundamentalist nutbars like Gary Chism who spend taxpayer dollars censoring textbooks? Is it going to be people who mock the very research and development that gives us the technical edge over our competition? Or is it going to be candidates who bring the GOP back to the true conservatism of real-facts-and-figures based values of self-reliance, smart foreign policy, and innovation?

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