Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Texas in the 21st Century

A big thanks to Hugo for reminding me about this post. For those of you who don't read the back pages of this blog, the dark spaces where the trolls lurk, helpful reader Hugo posted two very interesting articles (one and two) from Alt7, questioning the level of intellectual freedom possible in a place where disagreement is considered blasphemy and ant-patriotic. They make for interesting reading and bring up a some very good points. And they reminded me of a post I'd been meaning to write on a similar topic. Oh, hurray!

I read a very interesting article awhile ago about education, evolution and jobs in the future. It was so good and I was so going to write something meaningful about it, until my computer broke, and I had to go out of town, and goblins broke into my house, cleaned the place up and now I can't find anything, specifically that article I was so excited to write about. So guess what I am going to do? I'm going to write about it anyway and make up the bits I don't remember. Therefore, when you read that Texas is 49th in science education, followed only by Alabama, it could be wrong. Texas could be 48th, followed only by Alabama and Mississippi. But you get the point, most of what I write is ABSOLUTELY TRUE, based on facts I read somewhere, sometime, by someone. Don't go disbelieving or disagreeing with me just because you know I'm lying.

The article started by questioning Gov. Perry's commitment to biotech jobs in Texas, because the actions of the Republican party seem determined to limit Texas' ability to compete with states like California and North Carolina. Seems the biotech industry has done some impressive research what makes a productive work environment, and their number one requirement is an educated populace. Not just workers directly in the field, but medical researchers and lawyers and suppliers and voters. It seems a more informed population makes for a more profitable business. When the industry sees limits on stem cell research being voted on by the state legislature, they start to worry. They start to look deeper into the state's education history as a whole. And the thing they look at most closely is where the state stands on the teaching of evolution in school. Teach evolution openly and without question, the students do better in science in general and the workforce is educated and accepting of the necessities of the industry. States that do the worst in science are ones that insist on teaching creationism or the new catch phrase, intelligent design. Guess where Texas is? 49, right behind Alabama.

Now North Carolina is as red a state as Texas, yet they manage to lead the nation in science education. How? The people accept evolution, stem cell research and all that lovely money that the industry pumps into their economy. Where they used to rely on tobacco money, NC now leads in biotechnology. The oil industry will not drive Texas' economy forever (or very much longer). It is important that we identify beneficial industries, educate ourselves and promote this great state as the land of opportunity it once was and can be again. We do ourselves, our children and our state no favor by choosing ignorance. Education, open discourse, and a willingness to evolve are the keys to our future. I just hope the people of Texas decide to look ahead instead of falling into the past.