A couple weeks back we told you about the curious fight between an Arizona school district and science, namely the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board's plan to rip out two pages of a high school biology textbook. Those offending pages mention the existence of contraception and abortion, and for that, of course, they must be destroyed. (The board's rationale is that Arizona state law says that sex ed classes have to "promote" adoption over abortion, and the mere mention of the existence of condoms, etc., makes the books illegal.)
But since the Gilbert school board first hatched this fool-proof plan, something else has happened: the three members of the board who voted to redact the pages have all been voted out, and the new board majority doesn't favor destroying the pages.
Last week, though, a rumor started circulating on social media that the outgoing board members were going to take the law into their own hands and destroy the pages themselves, presumably in the dead of night while wearing ski masks and loudly promoting adoption. (One of those outgoing board members, Julie Smith, has called that "a slanderous lie.")
But the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is also concerned that the outgoing board members might feel the need to preserve their legacy, sending a letter last week to superintendent warning him not to let anybody get near those textbooks, given that it would constitute "criminal damage of property." The letter was somehow also forwarded to every school district employee through their departmental email, but the ACLU says they had nothing to do with that.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is also feeling a tad concerned that the pages might go missing. On her Tuesday show, she announced that, just in case, she's obtained all the pages in question and put them online, at ArizonaHonorsBiology.com.
"If the Gilbert, Arizona school board does decide to go ahead with a stealth plan to start ripping the pages out of science textbooks... I think we've got it covered," Maddow said. "High school kids of Arizona, if they do steal the stuff out of your books, ArizonaHonorsBiology.com is where you can get it again. Arizona may be conservative, but Arizona, you are still part of the United States, and you can't pretend some parts of biology don't exist because they make you feel oogy. You can try, but you cannot get away with it."
It's a nice stunt. But while Rachel Maddow presumably has tens of devoted teenage viewers in Gilbert, Arizona, the bigger issue here is that local school boards are frequently stacked with ideology-crazed weirdos who have inordinate power over what kids get to learn. Even if the books are saved in Arizona, we still have Texas, where the State Board of Education tries pretty much annually to excise abortion, evolution and sometimes any mention of the civil rights movement. (And because Texas is such an enormous market, their preferences have an outsize influence on the rest of the country.) And textbook controversies and book banning comes up regularly in other states every single year. Maybe the real problem isn't Gilbert, but the fact that we've somehow let scientific facts be debated by a committee?
Here's the full Maddow segment:
[H/T Raw Story]
Image via ArizonaHonorsBiology.com