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  Texas textbooks may omit Neil Armstrong (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Texas textbooks may omit Neil Armstrong
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 09-21-2009 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Houston Chronicle's SciGuy blog by Eric Berger:
Neil Armstrong isn't worthy of Texas textbooks?
As part of the process a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review team composed of parents and teachers has suggested removing Neil Armstrong from a "science strand" in a 5th grade social studies book.

Effectively this would remove the mention of Armstrong has a figure of historical significance from 5th grade textbooks. I asked board spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe why this change was made and she explained:

The team said they made this proposal because he was not a scientist. The State Board of Education has not voted for or against that proposal yet. It won't vote on the social studies proposal until January.
Like Eric and others, I find this to be outright absurd. Not only should they not be removing Armstrong, but they should be adding Aldrin and Collins (and more!).

Other sites are covering this too:

Jurg Bolli
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From: Albuquerque, NM
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posted 09-21-2009 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sad state of affairs.

Jurg

Henk Boshuijer
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From: Netherlands
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posted 09-21-2009 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henk Boshuijer   Click Here to Email Henk Boshuijer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong's name will be always connected to man's greatest achievement of last century. Removing Armstrong from the textbooks would be silly.

mjanovec
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posted 09-21-2009 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several thoughts immediately pop into mind:
  • How many important scientific discoveries were made throughout history by non-scientists...or at least non-professional scientists?
  • Armstrong was professionally trained to do science when he landed on the moon, making him a scientist as far as I'm concerned. (And as a professionally-trained and licensed geologist myself, I have no problem giving Armstrong credit as being a scientist.)
  • As a test pilot, Armstrong was effectively a flight test engineer...another perfectly respectible area of research.
  • Even if one doesn't wish to credit Armstrong as a scientist, he (and the other astronauts) are still noteworthy explorers who furthered scientific discovery. Without the astronauts, our knowledge of the moon's composition, age, distance, etc. would likely not have been discovered as soon as they were.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
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posted 09-21-2009 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This could explain why my folks signed me up to attend Catholic school in the late 70s when we returned to Texas after a TDY assignment.

Pretty bad guys. Come on! Although, now that the issue is potentially getting the public scrutiny it SHOULD get, I hope that recommendation gets reversed or doesn't get followed through with. And Texas has indeed a lot to thank NASA for in terms of their economy. Why do you think the Texas license plate has a shuttle on it?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-21-2009 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
Why do you think the Texas license plate has a shuttle on it?
Unfortunately, they removed that, too.

ejectr
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posted 09-21-2009 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally, I think engineers are scientists.

Aztecdoug
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posted 09-21-2009 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By the delete non-scientist rule does that mean they now have room for some objective information on people like Norman Borlaug?

Then what is the next step, delete Christopher Columbus?

The way things are in the California education system, I guess I am happy that they aren't giving space in the textbooks to the moon hoaxers. Not that half the California kids would be able to read them anyway these days.

------------------
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Douglas Henry

Enjoy yourself and have fun.... it is only a hobby!
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MCroft04
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posted 09-21-2009 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
Personally, I think engineers are scientists.

Scientists who have worked with engineers will say differently; they are 2 different breeds. Not in a bad way, but just different.

sts205cdr
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From: Sacramento, CA
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posted 09-21-2009 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Buzz was a scientist and he was there every step of the way. Or is that too much information for a textbook?

--John

spaced out
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posted 09-22-2009 01:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even if you don't count Armstrong as a scientist, the moon landings were the ultimate result of the most impressive scientific and engineering project of all time, achieved by the hard work of what was probably the largest team of scientists and engineers ever gathered to work on a single project. If that has no place in a science textbook then I can't imagine what does.

OLDIE
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posted 09-22-2009 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OLDIE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems to me a little like removing Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie from a "military strand" because they weren't proper soldiers!

issman1
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posted 09-22-2009 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find this astonishing especially since 2009 is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. Perhaps it is more of a sad commentary upon the present state of human spaceflight that no-one built upon the accomplishment of Armstrong and the other Apollo moonwalkers. I'd be interested to know if Harrison Schmitt (the only scientist on the Moon) is mentioned?

Delta7
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posted 09-22-2009 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being that the Apollo 11 moon landing was a significant scientific event among other things, why is mention of Armstrong's name predicated on his scientist credentials? Do they plan to change it to "Some guy from Ohio became the first person on the moon and brought back scientific data."?

Glad to see they're tackling the issues critical to our kid's education!

xlsteve
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From: Holbrook MA, USA
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posted 09-22-2009 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my wife's school system (in Massachusetts) they present the moon landings and the people involved as history rather than science. In the science text books it discusses the science involved with going to the moon and what was discovered about its origins. By putting the moon landings in its historical context it puts Armstrong in the company of Columbus and other explorers. This might be what Texas is doing as well.

teachspace
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From: river edge, nj usa
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posted 09-22-2009 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for teachspace   Click Here to Email teachspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's the e-mail for the Texas Board of Education if anyone wants to contact them. The address is stated for use if you have a concern. Sounds like we all have concerns:

teainfo@tea.state.tx.us

spaceman
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From: Walsall, West Midlands, UK
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posted 09-22-2009 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman   Click Here to Email spaceman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are many definitions of scientist - Neil Armstrong must qualify for them all.
  1. An expert in a field of study
  2. A person who has studied science, especially one who is active in a particular field of investigation.
  3. A person with advanced knowledge of one or more sciences
  4. A scientist, in the broadest sense, refers to any person that engages in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge or an individual that engages in such practices and traditions that are linked to schools of thought or philosophy.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 09-22-2009 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
James Hansen, author of "First Man", wrote the Texas Board of Education:
Dear Texas Board of Education,

As the authorized biographer of Neil A. Armstrong and professional historian, I find your reported decision to omit Mr. Armstrong's name from the "science strand" in Texas's fifth grade textbooks totally ridiculous and unjustified. I wonder how many of your board members actually know anything about Armstrong's career other than he was first man on the Moon? Apart from the fact that the first Moon landing will forever stand as one of mankind's boldest and most remarkable achievements, Armstrong, throughout his life, made many outstanding contributions to the progress of flight, both in and out of the atmosphere. As for him not being a "scientist," I dare say your Board members need a better understanding of what engineers do and how they do it, and how Armstrong was much more than a pilot; he was an engineering research pilot and astronaut whose every flight connected in important ways to the science of flying.

Please reconsider what people around the world are regarding to be an idiotic decision on the part of the Texas Board of Education.

Yours truly,

Dr. James R. Hansen
Neil Armstrong Biographer &
Professor of History and Director of the Honors College
Auburn University

Spacepsycho
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posted 09-22-2009 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One small step for bureaucrats, one giant leap for dumbing down future generations.

Gilbert
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posted 09-22-2009 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unbelievable!

E2M Lem Man
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posted 09-22-2009 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Insane! Don't they study at the BOE of Texas?

If they did they would have discovered his scientific investigations and papers that were a part of his work with NACA and NASA during his time at Ames-Dryden Center at Edwards Air Force Base. This included atmospheric work, guidance and many other areas.

J M Busby

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 09-22-2009 05:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sts205cdr:
Buzz was a scientist and he was there every step of the way.

Wasn't Buzz at least one small step behind?

skye12
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From: Austin, TX, USA
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posted 09-22-2009 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for skye12   Click Here to Email skye12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have noticed a disturbing trend by these state textbook commissions. It seems there is a war on traditional scientific history.

Space Emblem Art
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posted 09-22-2009 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Emblem Art   Click Here to Email Space Emblem Art     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's so sad that the pinheads are in charge of the textbook content.

Bill

Mike Dixon
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posted 09-22-2009 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not averse to calling a spade a shovel...

That this is even being considered is simply ignorance beyond belief.

dss65
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posted 09-22-2009 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asinine.

------------------
Don

Kevin Carrico
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From: Salina, Kansas, USA
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posted 09-22-2009 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Carrico   Click Here to Email Kevin Carrico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With considerations of this nature, maybe the Texas Board of Education should vote on a new name for themselves, such as, the Texas Bored of Education.

MadSci
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posted 09-22-2009 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MadSci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by teachspace:
The address is stated for use if you have a concern. Sounds like we all have concerns: teainfo@tea.state.tx.us
Perhaps we could be helpful to them with some perspective. Yes, Armstrong was not a Scientist, his NACA/NASA research was carried out in an engineering mode, as befit his training and his goals at the time. Nothing wrong with that.

And yes, in reality, the Apollo program was an engineering program, science took a back seat. The goal was to get there and get back safely, not to explore.

Once the 'get there and get back safely' part was worked out, the emphasis of the missions shifted considerably towards science, but we all know that only one Scientist went to the moon and only by the narrowest of margins did he get the last seat on the ride.

So if I was teaching about the Apollo program, I would be honest. The reason we went to the moon was political. The program that got us there was chiefly an Engineering program, but the emphasis was shifted towards Science once the ability to get there and back was established. So Politics, produced Engineering, which permitted Science, which gave us knowledge. What a great example of how these disparate disciplines can interact to produce something of value for all!

Now, in understanding Apollo's significance and it's place in history, this is important to understand. It also explains why the people to go in the ships were almost all engineers who were highly experienced fliers (or the other way around if you wish!). But none of that means that the Human achievement of going there is devalued unless a Scientist was on board.

Columbus went on his voyages to seek fame and fortune, not knowledge. Isabella didn't bankroll his 'program' in spite of this, but because of it. So why bother to learn about Columbus? Because those who go first make an outsized contribution to human history. As such, the Crew of Apollo 11, most notably Armstrong, have done so as well. To ignore a living Columbus in our midst is foolish and contributes to the ignorance of our children, not to their education.

Let's send them some emails that show them they are mistaken and/or misinformed, not just idiotic. It might have more impact.

(a very)MadSci

dogcrew5369
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posted 09-22-2009 10:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How about the Texas board of Selective Education. That seems to be the trend these days. Right? Just look around at textbooks in school.

sts205cdr
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posted 09-22-2009 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Wasn't Buzz at least one small step behind?

It would be nice if future school children in Texas could ask that question, don't you think?

--John

Space Possum
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posted 09-23-2009 06:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Possum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can assure you that it is not just Texas, all over the country schools are dumbing down the curricula in all subjects.

I give talks to school groups on history and occasionally space. Far and away the home school and private school groups are much better prepared and motivated.

The failure of the government education system is one of the reasons for U.S. decline in many areas. And with moon hoaxers teaching kids IN CLASS that we never went to the moon, what can we expect?

It is a frustrating situation.

cspg
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posted 09-23-2009 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Effectively this would remove the mention of Armstrong has a figure of historical significance from 5th grade textbooks.
Does Armstrong's name appear elsewhere, say in history textbooks? In the 6th grade? Anywhere?

I didn't know that "science" was incorporated into "social studies" ...weird things going on over there. But I don't recall having studied science, history or "social studies" in 5th grade. I don't recall what my school days were like in 1976.

BobbyA
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posted 09-23-2009 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BobbyA   Click Here to Email BobbyA     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a teacher in Virginia and I can tell you that two states drive the textbook industry: California and Texas. I fear that if Texas is removing Armstrong and Apollo that will lead to other states doing the same.

But, I am proud to say that the 7th grade history book that my county selected mentions Gagarin, Shepard, Glenn, Armsrtong and Aldrin. There is a detailed diagram of the Apollo CM, a sidebar about Ivan Ivanovich and Astronaut Mark Lee is the only photo on the cover of the book. Although the "photo" of Armstrong is actually Jim Irwin.

bobzz
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posted 09-23-2009 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobzz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why should we be surprised? I'm not. We have been heading in this direction for a while.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-23-2009 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been thinking about this and I believe I have a solution: if it is a steadfast rule that the only people to be named in the "science strand" of Texas' fifth grade social studies textbooks are scientists, then by all means omit Neil Armstrong and replace him with Harrison Schmitt.

Dr. Schmitt, by any definition, is a scientist (assuming the Board of Education agrees that geology is valid science).

Furthermore, in any discussion of Dr. Schmitt, the textbook would have to acknowledge that he wasn't the first person to walk on the Moon -- in fact, it could easily be justified to describe him as the 12th and last to step down off the lunar module ladder. That accomplishes several important lessons:

  1. We went to the Moon more than once.
  2. There were 12 people who walked on the Moon.
  3. That one of the accomplishments of going to the Moon was learning more about its geological history.
Teachers could then justify a brief lesson covering all 12 moonwalkers (starting with, of course, Neil Armstrong), if not also sneak in the other 12 astronauts who orbited the Moon.

Of course, if the Board of Education wants to keep it simple, then they could just keep Neil Armstrong's name where it is...

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-23-2009 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Space Possum:
I can assure you that it is not just Texas, all over the country schools are dumbing down the curricula in all subjects.

If it's any comfort the lunatics took over the (state) education asylum here in the UK twenty years ago. The imperative for political correctness precedes literacy and numeracy, let alone anything that could shockingly be construed as national heritage or history.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-23-2009 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eric Berger with the Houston Chronicle has posted a brief interview with James Hansen after reading here on collectSPACE the letter Hansen sent to the Texas Board of Education:
What do you think Armstrong might think about this controversy?

Neil is such a modest man. If he's heard of it, and someone probably has sent him something on it, I would think he might have some private thoughts. He would keep them to himself. But he would probably say, "It doesn't matter if my name is in the book itself." But he would want some recognition of the program and the 400,000 people involved in it. He wouldn't care for his own sake, but he would care for the sake of the Apollo program and the historical record. Neil is the iconic representation of what the moon landings were all about. It's not so much a slap in the face at Armstrong, although some people will view it that way, it's a slap in the face to the program over all.

tegwilym
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posted 09-23-2009 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unbelievable. So they take Neil Armstrong out of the books and replace him with... Bart Sibrel and his hoax buddies?

Yeah, take Armstrong out since he wasn't a scientist. As if they teach science very well in school anymore anyway. Sure glad I was a kid of the 70s and lived all this history!

Tom

canyon42
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posted 09-23-2009 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Space Possum:
I can assure you that it is not just Texas, all over the country schools are dumbing down the curricula in all subjects.
As a third grade teacher who is working his rear off trying to get his students ready for the upcoming state achievement tests, I'd personally appreciate a focus on the particular situation at hand, not meaningless generalizations such as this. I have also done "talks" and "presentations" to school groups in the past -- trust me, a one-hour session is hardly the same as dealing with a classroom day after day. Yes, the Texas BOE situation seems unfortunate, and it will hopefully be dealt with appropriately -- but sweeping comments like this don't help in the slightest.

Okay, off the soapbox and back into the shadows...

Space Possum
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posted 09-24-2009 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Possum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No insult meant to you. You are an example of the teachers who are actually doing something positive for their students. Believe me, I know what a difficult job you have, I was a third grader myself once, and I can only imagine what my teachers had to put up with!

The situation with Armstrong being removed from the textbooks is a symptom of a much greater problem, perhaps I did not state my position as I should have.

The decline in education standards is real and it is evident in practically all subjects being taught. I see it in all of the different states I visit.

Perhaps the situation in your state is different, but many educators I have spoken to privately say they are heavily pressured to teach the students how to pass the exams rather than actually teaching them anything substantive, and that is part of the problem.

Please DO NOT get off your soapbox! We need concerned and dedicated people like yourself to try and fix this broken education system from the inside.

Yeah... we've probably wandered a bit off topic, but this situation hits close to the nerves of a lot of us space supporters.


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