Why in the world would this failure of an Education Czar from Minnesota be promoted
and allowed to repeat her miserable performance in Florida?
[Link]: August 29, 2005--Cheri Pierson Yecke today announced that Florida Governor Jeb Bush has invited her to play a lead role on his education team. Yecke will end her Sixth Congressional District bid to help implement Governor Bush's reform agenda.
"I am honored to have been asked by Governor Jeb Bush to be such a significant part of his education team," said Yecke. "It is therefore with deep regret that I announce that I will no longer be a candidate for Minnesota's sixth district Congressional seat."
Let's run that through the Reality Community Translator: Yecke was unpopular with Minnesotans. She succeeded in dividing and pissing off the educational/science communities in particular with her loony take on everything from religion in the classroom, to sex Ed, to science & evolutionary biology. Her fringe ideas finally elicited statewide disgust and votes to send her packing. So she decided to run for the Sixth Congressional District Seat in 2006. The prospect of winning began to look worse and worse as support for the GOP in Minnesota went south along with Bush's numbers.
Behind the scenes, devious designs were drawn up resulting in Brother Jeb handing this Neo-con minion control over one of the largest educational budgets of any state in the Union. Coincidentally, just before the '06 elections, Florida undergoes a massive review of text book standards and contracts with publishers. New education policies are rumored to be in the works from the Governor's Office; which I have to guess will gut the hell out of everything from school lunches to the K-12 tax revenue base.
And since this decision to appoint Yecke was so laudable, and she has such a solid rep among the educational and scientific communities, it was announced with no fanfare the same day Hurricane Katrina dominated national and regional news.
Here's my take on what will follow: In a few months the evolution Vs Intelligent Design/Creationism issue is going to become a big media item in a state where it has received little attention from either educators or lawmakers. Ghost written 'local' editorials will start popping up about it in Florida newspapers. Discovery Institute PR hacks will trotted out and presented as reputable scientists questioning "Darwinism".
Under that cover, textbook content covering sex education, social studies, and global warming, will be attacked and mangled by the ultra-conservative wing of the GOP into a state of unrecognizable mush. All to enlist blind support for the real agenda: Protecting corporate interests and awarding big fat state contracts to publishers (And campaign contributions checked). And the Republicans now have a sworn soldier in the highest K-12 office in the state: Tricksy Republicans!
We're going to need credentialed biologists and science educators to address the upcoming Intelligent Design Creationism threat and the reproductive/education issues threat. More importantly, we will need political strategists to keep an eye out for opportunities to capitalize on the underlying agenda of meddling in the finances and business of K-12 education in Florida. If I'm right, the end result of the GOP plan will be to to boost support for both themselves and any policy they can cook up, all on the backs of the working-class in the Sunshine State from first-grade to retired homeowner.
I can't contribute much to the broad strategic angle other than to warn those in that line of work. But if you know folks who are Biology/Science Professors in Florida and you think they might be sympathetic to the idea of preventing their field of study from being torpedoed and transformed into a political football by political shills hiding under religion and 'fairness', I'm a good contact for them. I have the personal relationships with folks across the nation who have successfully thwarted this nonsense before and a wealth of insight into creationist tactics. And remember, what the GOP does in Florida, their success or failure, affects us all.
Update: Wesley Elsberry from the National Center for Science Education is forming a Florida Citizens for Science group to organize efforts to take this on. DR Elsberry has been instrumental in defeating Intelligent Design/Creationists all over the country.
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