Section 61.304 of the Texas Education Code prohibits a private postsecondary educational institution from granting or awarding degrees in the state of Texas unless the institution is issued a Certificate of Authority (COA) to grant such a degree by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (“Coordinating Board”).The document, itself, contains a timeline of events related to the ICR petition. Raymond Paredes wrote, in his ruling that:
A COA is an interim step for an institution seeking approval to offer degrees in Texas. A COA awarded by the Coordinating Board is a temporary authorization, valid for up to two years, that is predicated on the institution receiving formal accreditation from a Coordinating Board-recognized accrediting agency. An institution may seek limited, periodic renewal of their Certificate of Authority. However renewal is subject to the institution making demonstrable progress toward accreditation.
My recommendation to the Board is based on two considerations, the first of which is that ICR failed to demonstrate that the proposed program meets acceptable standards of science and science education. As indicated in a faculty job announcement, ICR requires that applicants “be committed to young earth creation science and the Bible;” in its current general catalog, ICR states that its mission “is to study, teach and communicate the works of God’s creation.” Also in the catalog appears this statement: “All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the Creation Week described in Genesis…and confirmed in Exodus….The creation record is factual, historical and perspicuous; thus all theories of origin and development that involve evolution in any form are false.” ICR’s catalog also states “The phenomenon of biological life did not develop by natural processes from inanimate systems but was specially and supernaturally created by the creator.” This statement runs counter to the conventions of science which hold that claims of supernatural intervention are not testable and, therefore, outside the realm of science.Why is this coming back now? Because a state representative from Tyler, Texas, Leo Berman is proposing legislation to exempt the ICR from the Coordinating Board's rules. The story, in the Longview News-Journal, notes:
Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, said his proposed legislation is intended to allow the Bible-oriented group to proceed without the coordinating board's blessing.It is distressing that a representative would attempt to circumvent a scientific body to push through a piece of legislation catering to the needs of a group who's work has been soundly criticized in the scientific community. The ICR, the DI and various state senators and representatives seem to not see the problem in politicizing science.
"Why are people who call themselves scientists afraid to hear two sides of a debate?" Berman asked Friday.
His proposal would exempt private, nonprofit educational institutions that do not accept state funding and state-administered federal funding from coordinating board rules.
The subsidiary problem, of course, is state representatives meddling in areas of science in which they are manifestly unqualified to do so. When Rep. Berman states "Personally, I don't believe in evolution. I don't believe I came from a salamander that came out of a pond," he betrays a sharp ignorance of the very area in which he is attempting to legislate. He has been told that the ICR has good science and since they share his theological leanings, he supports them. He does not know that the "debate" has been conjured up by the ICR and like groups in an effort to "teach the controversy." This, despite the fact that there is no debate, no controversy. We might as well be debating whether or not the earth is flat. As I have said in the past, when politicians get involved in science education, the outcome is never good.
If the ICR does get exempted from the board's rules, what is to keep other organizations that are even less credible from doing the same? The article concludes:
Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, said the measure promotes a right-wing religious agenda.
"It would make Texas a magnet for unscrupulous private 'educational' companies that will want to offer students the opportunity to pay for bogus advanced degrees," Schafersman wrote on his group's Web site. "If H.B. 2800 became law, it would be a gold mine to every fly-by-night, degree-granting outfit in the country."