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Stupid science

When you get caught between God and Oklahoma City

God forbid—and HE will be along later—that the state’s students have unredacted access to science and culture without our representatives going into adverbial shock and singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

Forget it, Jake, it’s Oklahoma.

It all started the week the legislature mercifully adjourned, when a House committee voted to reject a set of new science standards called the Oklahoma Academic Skills for Science. This was noteworthy because students here ranked 42nd nationally and “far below average” in science education and, worse, many of our teachers have—let’s just say—quaint notions about mankind.

Among the findings of some researchers who recently conducted a survey of Oklahoma high school biology teachers: “25 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, ‘Scientific evidence indicates that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time in the past.’”

Is it too early to start drinking?

So even though the guidelines were developed by a group of sixty, approved by the state Board of Education, endorsed by, of all people, Janet Barresi, and clearly needed, House committee members still voted 10-1 against the new regulations because of what they called the proposal’s agenda-driven curriculum. Specifically, there were fears that students would be introduced to environmentalism (groans), evolution (hiss), and—drum roll please—global climate change (boo).

On that last matter, Representative Mark McCullough was reported to have said, “There’s been a lot of criticisms, in some sectors, as to maybe some of the hyperbole—what some consider hyperbole relative to climate change. I know it’s a very, very difficult, very controversial subject.”

For those scoring at home, in the last nineteen words: two hyperboles, three verys, and a heap of dinosaur dung.

“Do you believe,” he asked, “that those sections specifically relating to weather and climate particularly at the earlier ages…could potentially be utilized to implicate into some pretty young impressionable minds, a fairly-one sided view as to that controversial subject, a subject that’s very much in dispute among even the academics?”

For the love of Pat Sajak, it’s only controversial to those academics that consult Jenny McCarthy on vaccinations and cite Bishop Ussher for how old the earth is.

According to Tiffany Neill, director of science education in Oklahoma, the whole debate is maddening, as the proposed curriculum doesn’t even focus on the causes of climate change in the earlier grades but rather, gives them an “an awareness of weather and climate” and encourages them to come to their own conclusions.

If only legislators wanted that.

So what happened to the bill? Well, you know that joke about how there are two things in life you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation?

From the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association end-of-session update: “Technically, even though each chamber had voted against the standards, they hadn’t done so to the same bill [because the Senate amended the original] and so the effect is the same as if they had refused to act and the new standards are enacted as rules by default.”

Yes, a bill both chambers hated is now law because they didn’t hate it properly.

Days later, the full House rejected Common Core, the Senate voted for its own education standards, and the Governor went back to the residence.

You know what? It’s not too early. I’ll have a shot of Tequila.

Common Core is a national initiative for the teaching of English and math, even if some maintain it was crafted in the pits of hell by Beelzebub and central planners. Rep. John Bennett said the initiative was "getting its claws" into Oklahoma's children in order to be indoctrinated in a U.N.-led agenda of "a sustainable world without borders."”

Forget the warnings from NASA and the U.S. military, the glaciers that have broken off in both West Antarctica and Greenland, and the rise in temperatures over the past thirty years,  students won’t learn about climate change because Jim Inhofe has a fondness for seasons and knows exactly where the Lord is.

Really—a “U.N-led Agenda” to teach math? So, for the 1,294th time, Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary set of goals passed by the UN in 1992. Ratified by 178 nations, including ours (George H.W. Bush approved), it concerns economic, social, and environmental development and, trust me, “Poppy” wouldn’t have signed it if there were any chance Southern Hills would be turned into a kibbutz.

The guidelines encourage—encourage—nations to think of future development with foresight, to harness resources and opportunity, to not put nuclear waste dumps under preschool playgrounds, things like that.

More to the point, Common Core has as much to do with Agenda 21 as I do with F-150 bed liners.

But Bennett was just getting warmed up.

“God,” he said, "is being replaced in our schools by Darwin and Marx. Common Core is the most dangerous Trojan Horse ever brought to our gates. Don't let the federal government come in and spoil our children and turn them into little drones.”

DarwinMarx … Trojan Horse … gates … drones? This guy should host Bad Analogous Theatre.

P.S. God is not supposed to be in our schools. 

And that’s not the worst of it (OK, maybe it is).

Last year House Bill 1674, originally the work of Sally Kern and updated by Gus Brackwell, said “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" were controversial topics not to be broached in classrooms. 

Well, where do they want these things discussed—at a Drillers game? And did these Mensans really equate those last two items?

“Mommy, can we clone grandpa after we’re done reading about rising sea levels? Please!”

The bill didn’t become law, but ignorance dies hard in these parts. Like Sharia Law and a ban on gay marriage, though, it will be back.

Speaking of, what discussion on climate change would be complete without hearing from Oklahoma’s Grand High Exalted Denier of Global Warming?

“’ … as long as the earth remains,’” quoted Senator Jim Inhofe from Genesis recently on national radio, “’there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there.”

And there you have it.

Forget the warnings from NASA and the U.S. military, the glaciers that have broken off in both West Antarctica and Greenland, and the rise in temperatures over the past thirty years, students won’t learn about climate change because Jim Inhofe has a fondness for seasons and knows exactly where the Lord is. And Al Gore is fat—or something.

One more thing, and for that we head to the News from the Plains Book Club and a special performance by Senator Josh Brecheen. In an effort to show the corrosive cultural effects of Common Core, he attempted to read, on the Senate floor, from Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” but came down with the vapors, at one point spelling out the word g-e-n-i-t-a-l-s and then reading aloud, “the tightness of her … uh … v … uh, I’ll leave it to your imagination.” Then, begging for someone to “gavel me down,” Brecheen continued, barely getting out the words “gigantic” and “genitals” before stopping. The book, he concluded, was “miserably graphic” (twice), before reminding members they had a choice to live in Oklahoma under the “tenth amendment where we can have our Christian values.” (See the video)

I must have passed out, for when I woke, I told those around my gurney, “I had a dream that someone spelled out a-n-u-s on the Senate floor and rewrote the constitution. It was terrible, Auntie Em.”

(Oh, sorry, wrong musical.)

Toni Morrison, incidentally, is a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize Winner, who once said, “I have visited Oklahoma and was impressed by its natural beauty—so unlike the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ scenes. What I learned was the nature of the promise it held for African-Americans looking for safety and prosperity—some highly successful stories and some failures.”

So, it’s not just global warming, evolution, biology, geometry, and chemistry that state legislators want to keep away from children. It’s a voice like this: an honest, beautiful, necessary, hopeful—yes, at times, brutal—voice that could tell them something about Oklahoma, something about themselves.

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