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Secular Student Alliance Board Member to Face Off With Texas Board of Education Creationist

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As the Texas Board of Education threatens to revise the history books to favor religion, a secular student leader is stepping into the discussion to voice opposition. This Sunday, Matthew LaClair, board member of the national Secular Student Alliance, will face off with controversial figure Dr. Don McLeroy, a young-Earth creationist leader on the Texas Board of Education, on the radio show Equal Time for Freethought on WBAI 99.5FM.

Matthew LaClair
SSA Board member Matthew LaClair will face off with Dr. Don McLeroy, young-Earth creationist leader on the Texas Board of Education, over curriculum standards

The proposed curriculum changes, backed by McLeroy, were characterized by the New York Times as "stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers' commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light." Texas has the largest market for textbooks, so many companies write their books with Texas' curriculum in mind. Their board's decision is expected to affect states across the country.

"It is profoundly disturbing that the Texas Board of Education wants to selectively choose, omit, and misrepresent dozens of aspects of history," said LaClair. "I want to engage with Dr. McLeroy on why their attempt to rewrite history is misguided and harmful to students, and to provide potential alternatives."

Matthew LaClair has appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, was featured in the New York Times, and wrote an Op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. Currently a journalism student at the Eugene Lang College at the New School in NYC, LaClair burst on the national scene in 2006 when he challenged his high school teacher for proselytizing to his class. He gained national media attention again in 2008 for challenging inaccuracies and bias in an American Government textbook.

McLeroy has served on the Texas Board of Education since 1998, and acted as its chair from July 2007 until May 2009. He has repeatedly argued in favor of teaching the weaknesses of evolution in science classrooms.

LaClair hopes that the exchange will bear fruit. "There is no doubt that Dr. McLeroy and we secular students disagree strongly on many points, and I will challenge him when he is wrong," said LaClair. "But I truly believe that there is a possibility for some agreement and common ground, and there is still hope for some positive changes to the Texas curriculum standards."

The exchange on Equal Time for Freethought, which LaClair guest-hosts, will air Sunday, April 25th at 6:30pm on WBAI 99.5FM in the New York tri-state area and will be streamed live at http://stream.wbai.org. It will be available for download on the Equal Time for Freethought website: http://www.equaltimeforfreethought.org/blog/

An Intern's Reflection on the SSA New England Leadership Summit

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Speak Out Against the Texas State Board of Education

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 DEFEND ... The Enlightenment, Science and Reason, High Academic Standards in our Public Schools, and the Separation of Church and State!

Join us on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin
Sunday, May 16, 2010 ~ 11:00 AM
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Speak out against proposed radical changes to public school textbooks by the State Board of Education!
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A religious-right faction dominating the Texas Board of Education is trying to distort the content of public school textbooks. This revisionist history includes downplaying or eliminating mention of Enlightenment thinkers including Thomas Jefferson; more emphasis on religious themes and figures (theocrats like John Calvin!); and even attacks on Darwinian evolution.

These religious extremists wish to turn our public schools into pulpits for sectarian preaching and an authoritarian social and cultural agenda. Their actions could affect the content of school texts in nearly two-dozen other states as well! We urge you to join us for a peaceful assembly on the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin to protest this outrage, and to express support of teaching solid science, balanced history and facts over sectarian religious dogmatism. Stop the Texas Textbook Massacre!

Furman Society of Free Inquiry Wins "Boundary Breaking" Award

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