There are moments, I must admit, when I look at my country in a state of stunned and utter and utterly stunned disbelief. When a Fox News interviewer (Chris Wallace) asks a GOP candidate (Michele Bachmann) ‘Are you a flake?’ is one of those moments.
To be clear, it’s not the question itself, it’s not even that it was asked by someone at Fox. Nor is it that it was an ‘uh, DUH!’ question if I’ve ever heard one. Instead, it is that a woman like Bachmann can be considered as a candidate for high office. It is that at this moment she is currently tied for the GOP lead in the Iowa polls.
But it is a specific part of Michele Bachmann’s answer that led me to consider, at least momentarily, if I could ever give up my US citizenship if this woman was elected. Michele answered Wallace by saying that she’s ‘worked in serious scholarship… (that she has) applied (herself) to education reform.’ So she has. And that’s what I would like to look at.
Especially because, a few weeks ago, I came across an incredible story about a young high school senior in Louisiana named Zach Kopplin. Zach decided to challenge Bachmann’s educational policies; concerned she might someday bring them to the national stage. Specifically, he challenged her comments asserting ‘considerable controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact.’ Bachmann’s claims, which so concerned Zach, stated that ‘hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.’ (Intelligent design is code for people believing in creationism, or the literal truth of the book of Genesis.)
Zach didn’t buy it. Not only did he not buy it, he proved it wasn’t so. He challenged Michele Bachmann to find him even two Nobel Laureates to defend her position, while he presented her with 43 Nobel Laureates who endorsed his own. In a royal flush poker analogy if I’ve ever heard one, he said “Congresswoman Bachmann, I see your ‘hundreds’ of scientists and raise you millions of scientists.’
There has, to date, been zero response from Bachmann. A high school student, undoubtedly one incredible kid, has shown up a congresswoman/presidential candidate. In Zach’s website he notes that the 2009 National Center for Education Statistics ranked Louisiana as second from last in national 8th grade students’ science education. He rightly fears Bachmann bringing an anti-science, creationist stance to the national stage – brilliantly propounding the case that such efforts in Louisiana have not only impacted his own future, they have hurt the state and all students in it. Zach asks how colleges and universities are to take Louisiana students seriously; given the kind of education they have been receiving. And he’s backed not only by major science organizations, such as the 10 million member strong American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest general science organization in the world, but also by The Clergy Letter Project, an organization of 13,000 plus clergy members who affirm their support for teaching evolution. All one can say, is ‘Go, Zach, Go!’
I’d like to know what has happened to the separation of church and state I’ve always believed America to have? How religious theory can be taught on an equal footing with scientific fact? How tea party members profess surprise in the recent, upsetting PISA results (Program for International Student Assessment) while even considering their darling Bachmann to become the country’s next leader?
All I can say is that I am very proud, and deeply thankful, that there are students like Zach to show up Bachmann for the flake she is!