Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Dialog with George Clayton

George Clayton
George Clayton

This week, The Dallas Morning News recommended Geraldine "Tincy" Miller for the GOP nomination for District 12 of the State Board of Education. I unenthusiastically went along. I wasn't enamored of Miller, but saw nothing in her opponent, George Clayton, for me to entrust the post to him. Clayton commented on the DMN's website, which led to a dialog between him and me concerning his position on science education. The upshot is that my doubts about his candidacy only deepened. I had hoped that a qualified, informed candidate who I could trust would put education above ideology would emerge to challenge Miller (like Thomas Ratliff has challenged Don McLeroy in District 9), but George Clayton is *not* that candidate. Miller may not be my ideal candidate, but George Clayton would be much worse.

After the jump, the transcript of my dialog with George Clayton.

  • gmc: While being interviewed by the Dallas Morning News editors,my opponent Geraldine Miller, admitted to not knowing the difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design and when asked for her opinion on how to make the board less partisan, she instead explained her passion for the Texas Constitution. Yet, I am the person who has a tenuous grasp on the board's duties. Let me tell you who I am not. I am not the person in this race who has very deep pockets from which I can personally finance my campaign with tens of thousands of dollars. But, I am the only educator in the race, which means nothing to the Dallas Morning News.
    Sincere beyond belief, I am respectfully, George M. Clayton, Candidate State Board of Education, District 12
  • Mark Steger: gmc, just what is "the difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design?"
  • gmc: Mark, the issue of teaching Creationism vs. the Theory of Evolution was brought up in the interview by the editorial board of the DMN. At that point Ms. Miller freely admitted to not knowing the difference in Creationism, the Biblical/Genesis explanation and Intelligent Design, a more philosophical explanation of the order of the universe, not necessarily brought about by the God of the Bible. In other words, an omnipotent intelligence had to have had some hand in the orderly balance of the universe. It is actually a very important difference. If you will go to the DMN Voters Guide, there, you will find my questionnaire along side of my opponets. Please read it. The DMN said I had no real ideas. Please go find out how untrue that statement really is. Keep in mind that the members of the interview team already had copies of the questionnaires in their hands and had prepared their questions from that text. I hope this answers your questions. Thank you for writing. I am giving you a "thumbs up" for giving me this opportunity to help you. You might be interested to know that I also explained this difference to Ms. Miller and the editorial board.
    George M. Clayton
  • Mark Steger: gmc, you say "Intelligent Design [is] a more philosophical explanation of the order of the universe, not necessarily brought about by the God of the Bible."
    You are being coy. Call it an "an omnipotent intelligence" instead of God if you want, Intelligent Design is still Creationism dressed up in pseudo-scientific clothes. But call it what you will. You still have not explicitly said whether you believe in teaching Intelligent Design to Texas schoolchildren in science classes.
  • gmc: Sorry Mark. I looked over my answer in a quest for where I was coy. I could not find that in my answer. So, here is my perspective. I have absolutely no objection to Creationism, Intelligent Design, and evolution being covered in public schools so long as they are covered simultaneously--in a parallel lesson. All must be discussed objectively, without bias or prejudice. Evolution is yet still a "theory." Intelligent Design is a philosophical explanation that acknowledges an intelligence greater than which no other exists or can be imagined and, of course, Creationism is faith in the Genesis accounts of the universe. I will say to you Mark, this is a very emotional and controversial issue. I am sure you know that. Therefore, I suggest when these subjects are discussed that they be removed from the science classroom and introduced in a more neutral venue; humanities, perhaps sociology, AP literature, philosophy or even a history class. But, in all circumstances they should be taught objectively. I have enjoyed our little give and take here. Socratic discourse is always enlightening. You might have guessed by now that my degree is in philosophy; from the University of South Florida. I have several meetings beginning now that will last until early afternoon; curriculum development for next year. Please write more. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
    George M. Clayton
  • Mark Steger: gmc, you make it sound like evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design are all equally plausible theories and science is undecided over which is the current best explanation for empirical data. That's false and it would do Texas schoolchildren a disservice to pretend otherwise in the science curriculum. Teach Creationism in religion class if you must. Teach Intelligent Design in a philosophy class maybe. Maybe teach the controversy itself in a social studies class. But teach science in science class and of the three, only the theory of evolution by natural selection is science.

    By the way, when you say "Evolution is yet still a 'theory'" you suggest a basic misunderstanding of science. Of course evolution is yet still a 'theory'. It will always be a 'theory' just as Newton's theory of universal gravitation and Einstein's theory of general relativity are yet still theories and always will be no matter how well established they are. Maybe you're a teacher and have great skill in *how* to teach, but I fear for Texas schoolchildren if you get to decide *what* they are taught.

  • gmc: Dear Mark, very well spoken! Of course, because of Ms. Miller's love for standardized testing, the issues we have discussed is not really a part of anyone's day here at North Dallas High School. We are too busy preparing students for the TAKS. In any case, I understand your personal opinion and thank you for your comments. Please extend my greetings to Ms. Miller.
    George M. Clayton

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

For a report on a Feb 17 SBOE candidates forum, look here.