Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lamar Smith advocates for Soviet style political interference in science

Lamar Smith hasn’t learned a thing from the Soviet Union’s dalliance with political interference in science. In the 1940’s Trofim Lysenko was an agronomist who became director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of a theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics. He used political pressure to direct agricultural scientists and farm policies that ruined farm productivity for decades before he was finally discredited. Smith wants to revisit Communist style control of science here in the U.S.

While Smith’s immediate target seems to be political science research that he doesn’t agree with he is a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist which believes that sickness is an illusion caused by mistaken beliefs, and that the sick should be treated by a special form of prayer intended to correct those beliefs, rather than by medicine. Will that non-sense lead him to advocate for eliminating funds for medical research?

Smith’s bill would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. His bill would also start a process to determine whether the same criteria should be used by every other federal science agency. Do we really want a bunch of lawyers deciding what is worthy of scientific research?

Kuempel throws local school districts under the bus - Again!

State Representative John Kuempel continued to attack public education by actively participating in the witch hunt that killed CSCOPE thereby costing many school districts in the state money as they will now need to develop their own individual curricula instead of sharing resources with all other districts. Superintendent Burnie Roper of Lackland ISD called the claims of anti-Americanism in CSCOPE “ridiculous.” Given that Lackland ISD serves many children from the sprawling airbase I doubt Roper’s anything less than a patriot.

Shortly after the vote Thomas Ratliff, Republican member of the State Board of Education, issued a press release that said in part “With the elimination of CSCOPE, the amount of resources and human capital required to develop curriculum for those 875 districts just multiplied because they are all on their own again.  This is the very duplication of effort and waste of taxpayer dollars that CSCOPE had solved, at least before today.”

Last session Kuempel disregarded pleas from constituents and local school board members who urged him to protect funding for public education and instead voted to cut public education funding by $5 billion.

Once again Kuempel has thrown the school districts in HD 44 under the bus telling them to find the resources to replace the service CSCOPE had provided them without fully restoring funding to prior levels. Local control means that each independent school district had the choice to use CSCOPE or not, with this vote Kuempel and those who supported this witch hunt have removed that option.