This Sunday, Matthew LaClair, president of CFI On Campus, will square off with Dr. Don McLeroy, the creationist who leads the conservative faction of the Texas Board of Education. The exchange is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Equal Time for Freethought, a show on the radio station WBAI 99.5FM. It will be streamed live and will later be available for download on the Equal Time for Freethought Web site .
The conversation comes as the Board is considering curriculum changes, backed by McLeroy, that downplay the Founding Fathers’ belief in secular government, and promote conservative political philosophies. The proposed changes passed the Board, 10-5, back in March , are currently open to public comment, and will go to final vote in May. Textbook decisions made in Texas are often considered monumentally important, as the state has the largest market for textbooks, and thus companies tend to write their books with the Texas standards in mind. Moreover, Texas only takes up such revisions every 10 years.
LaClair is best remembered for the national attention he garnered in 2006 when he went public with the news that his high school teacher was promoting religion in history class (he had the tape to prove it); and when he again grabbed the spotlight in 2008 for challenging inaccuracies and bias in an U.S. Government textbook (a case in which the Center for Inquiry was involved). LaClair is currently a journalism student at Eugene Lang College at the New School in New York City, and guest hosts on Equal Time for Freethought.
McLeroy, who has been on the Board since 1998, formerly served as Chair of the Board between 2007 and 2009 until being voted out . In the past, he has pushed for biology textbooks to feature language doubting the veracity of the theory of evolution, for instance asking students to "analyze and evaluate the sufficiency and insufficiency of common ancestry."
LaClair is dismayed by the actions of the Texas Board of Eduction and McLeroy but hopes the conversation will be productive.
“It is profoundly disturbing that the Texas Board of Education wants to selectively choose, omit, and misrepresent dozens of aspects of history. 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. 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. 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.”
Knowing LaClair, I expect nothing less than interesting and informative listening.