Texas and Textbooks
by Christopher Brauchli –
School days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule Days. . . .
— 1907 Popular Song by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards
For those of us who in years gone by have enjoyed watching the Texas State Board of Education wrestle with the question of what to put in science textbooks used by its students that address, among other things, the pesky questions of climate change and evolution, I am happy to alert readers to the possibility of a new addition to that august group. To describe her at this time may seem premature, since in order for her to join that Board she will have to win a run off election in early May as well as the general election in November. Nonetheless, since many of her ideas remind us of the halcyon days of that Board when it was chaired by Don McLeroy, it seems appropriate to remind Texas voters of what they have to look forward to, should she join that body. Don McLeroy is, of course, fondly remembered by Board observers.
In 2009 Dr. McLeroy and his like minded colleagues on the Board were successful in requiring Texas science text books to address the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories such as evolution. In a January 2010 interview with Mariah Blake of the Washington Monthly discussing that issue, Dr.McLeroy said of the Board’s decision: “Wooey. We won the Grand Slam, and the Super Bowl.. .. Our science standards are light years ahead of any other state when it comes to challenging evolution.” During the interview he explained to Ms. Blake that “Evolution is hooey.” (In expressing that sentiment he was nothing more than a harbinger of Ben Carson. Dr. Carson has often opined on evolution saying Darwin’s theory of evolution was “something that was encouraged by [Satan]” and saying the big bang theory is like “fairy tales.”) Dr. McLeroy has not been a member of the Board for many years but, if elected, Mary Lou Bruner from Canton, Texas, should prove to be someone who can fill the shoes left empty when the good Doctor left the Board.
In 2013, Ms. Bruner addressed the Texas State Board of Education. In her comments to the board she said, among other things, that “Evolution scientists have ignored (and hidden) evidence proving humans and dinosaurs existed simultaneously. Foot prints of dinosaur and man have been found preserved together in solid rock. . . . Evolution is a religious philosophy with propaganda supporting the religion of atheism.” This is not simply an idea she has plucked out of thin air. In an article published April 9, 2013 that begins with the statement that: “This article is very true.” Ms. Bruner supports her theory with a careful analysis of what happened after the flood waters on which Noah’s ark floated, receded. She said that dinosaurs and humans co-existed at that time and explains that: “When the flood waters subsided and rushed to the oceans there was no vegetation on the earth because the earth had been covered with water. . . The dinosaurs on [Noah’s ark] may have been babies and not able to reproduce.” She then explains that there was not enough vegetation on earth to enable dinosaurs to survive to reproductive age, an absence of sustenance that apparently did not have a similar effect on humans.
According to a report from Texas Freedom Network (TFN) that has followed Ms. Bruner’s writing, she has expressed herself on numerous topics. As might be expected from one who has a theory to explain why evolution is a non-starter, as it were, Bruner also has an opinion on climate change that is, if nothing else, refreshing, since it has not been heard from others. “Climate change” she says, “has nothing to do with weather or climate; it is all about system change from capitalism (free enterprise) to Socialism-Communism. The Climate Change HOAX was Karl Marx’s idea. It took some time to ‘condition’ the people so they would believe such a ridiculous HOAX.”
In addition to being something of a scientist, Ms. Bruner is also an historian. In 2014 Ms. Bruner wrote of the Civil War that “Historians waited until all of the people who were alive during the Civil War and the Restoration (sic) were dead of old age. THEN HISTORIANS WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS TO TELL THE STORY THE WAY THEY WANTED IT TOLD.” There is, of course, a bit of poetic license in that allegation since many history books were written long before the last civil war survivor died some time in the 1950s.
Ms. Bruner has also formed opinions about Islam that sound remarkably similar to another scholar who has contemplated the religion, Donald Trump. Ms. Bruner has written that: “Islam is not a religion. Islam is an inhumane totalitarian political ideology with radical religious rules and laws and barbaric punishments for breaking the religious rules.” She has also written that the reason that President Obama favors rights for gays is because of the years he spent as a male prostitute living in New York City using his earnings to support his drug habit.
Ms. Bruner is a retired teacher. As she explained when addressing the Texas State Board of Education, she taught kindergarten in the Texas public schools for 35 years. That may very well explain why Texas has produced such luminaries as Ted Cruz and Texas governor, Gregg Abbott. If she becomes a member of the Board, all eyes will be on new editions of science textbooks in Texas. For good reason.
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Reprinted with permission from Common Dreams