Flypaper

Liam asks "how Fordham can defend literature that goes against the scientific consensus on climate change while pillorying literature that goes against the scientific consensus on evolution." On its face, this is a fair question. But there are some important distinctions. Most importantly, we regularly rail against states or schools that question the science on evolution--in their science standards or science classes. We frequently argue that the right place to debate "Intelligent Design" and the like is in a current affairs or philosophy class. But science class should be for science.

In this case, the target of the Associated Press article was a U.S. government textbook. So the textbook's statements on global warming--which I think went up to the line but didn't quite cross it, in terms of the "scientific consensus"--are more forgivable than if they appeared in a geology text. There is a policy debate about global warming--even if we agree that it's happening, and humans are causing it, it's not clear what should be done--and that's a debate reasonably addressed by government and civics classes. "Intelligent design for global warming" this is not....

I'll admit to watching some of last night's Hollywood-glitzy American Idol Gives Back show. Hey, you don't have to be under ten (like my nieces) to appreciate the talents of Miley Cyrus, or to enjoy Robin Williams pretending to be the winner of "Russian Idol." (Best joke: his father won "Anti-American Idol" in 1978.) A cynic would argue that the production was a platform for big stars to flatter their sense of generosity. But I'm not a cynic--I was a camp counselor after all--and I even teared up at a couple of video segments showing kids living in awful conditions around the world.

The event raises gobs of money for the "American Idol Gives Back Foundation," which then forwards the funds to a selection of charities. That's all well and good. But I couldn't help but notice that the two recipients they picked that were most related to education were the Children's Defense Fund--an old-style, true-blue liberal advocacy group--and Save the Children--and old-style, true-blue liberal charity. "Venture philanthropy" this is not.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; this is Hollywood. But it would have been fun to see some money go to KIPP, or Teach For America, or anything with a more systematic, strategic approach than the after-school programs and book drives that these older charities have been implementing for decades. Maybe next year American Idol could give back... to the future....

Liam Julian

I understand where Mike is coming from here. But the version of American Government currently in classrooms states that "science doesn't know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all." It also contains a sentence stating that global warming is "enmeshed in scientific uncertainty."

Mike notes that because the disputed statements occur in a U.S. government textbook, they "are more forgivable than if they appeared in a geology text... There is a policy debate about global warming." But the scientific basis of climate change, not the policy, is what is questioned by Dilulio and Wilson. Whether that happens within a science textbook, a math textbook, or a U.S. government textbook is irrelevant, just as it is irrelevant where the scientific basis of evolution is questioned. If, for example, a U.S. government textbook noted that evolution "is controversial, mostly because it is enmeshed in scientific uncertainty," Fordham would no doubt take exception.

Mike writes that "science class should be for science." Then shouldn't U.S. government class be for U.S. government?

Liam Julian

National Review's Phi Beta Cons blog is engaged in discussion of the same topic that we are. See here and here.

Liam Julian

Via The Gradebook: Florida could be next to join the American Diploma Project, which Fordham helped develop several years ago.

Liam Julian

This ongoing story is understandably unsettling to lots of people. The more one learns about this school, the more one is convinced it's unlawful. Ritual washing and Friday prayers? I know Kuhner doesn't like it....

Update: Mark Hemingway weighs in at The Corner.

Liam Julian

About this and this (the possibility that New York's principals would be disallowed from considering student test scores when evaluating whether teachers should receive tenure), the New York Times thinks:

It is an absurd ban that does a disservice to the state's millions of public school students. The State Legislature should remove this language from the budget.

Who's to blame?

Nobody in Albany would say who is behind this language. The driving force, however, is the powerful teachers' union that gives lots of money and time to state campaigns.

Surprisingly that wasn't one of Angelina Jolie's suggestions when she spoke yesterday at a Council on Foreign Relations panel about the impact of??the war??on Iraq's children. Find out what she did recommend here.

Liam Julian

Seems that not a few people want to punch Britain's Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, in the face.

One would think this topic wouldn't deserve treatment from the Associated Press's national desk???or be picked up in 200 media outlets worldwide (so far). We've known forever that textbooks tend to be sloppy, riddled with errors, and generally banal. And when textbooks are "found" to have a liberal-leaning bias, the "news" is only reported by outlets like the Washington Times. But alas, the American government??textbook in question in today's articles is written by two well-known conservatives (oh, the horror!), James Wilson and John Dilulio. (The fact that these two even got a contract to write a textbook probably should have been news.)

What were their sins? Among other things, they wrote that "science doesn't know how bad the greenhouse effect is" and global warming is "enmeshed in scientific uncertainty." I might quibble with those statements a bit (I am??Leafy Mike after all), but they aren't as out of line as the anti-American screeds that pass for curricular materials in many a U.S. classroom. But alas, conservatism is under fire from all corners right now, so we shouldn't be surprised when the MSM wants to pile it on....

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