Douglas Calls Out “Fake News,” Offers Hillsdale Standards To SBE

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas addresses State Board of Education

On Monday, during a meeting of the Arizona State Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Public Instruction challenged the “fake news” about the state’s science standards. Douglas also kept her promise to introduce for consideration the Hillsdale Barney Charter School standards for consideration by the Board.

For months, various news outlets have claimed that under Douglas’ leadership, the Arizona Department of Education was developing science standards that eliminated references to evolution and promoted the faith-based “Intelligent Design” theory. The misinformation caused near hysteria and created considerable internet traffic for failing news outlets.

Douglas also offered a public apology to Dr. Kezele, a physician, who participated in Science standards development. Dr. Kezele had become a target of fake news reporters for his religious beliefs.

“First, for the record, Dr. Kezele earned his medical degree at the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona and is currently an assistant biology professor at Arizona Christian University,” stated Douglas. “Some of the courses he has taught over the years include Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Human Genetics, and Ecology. I’d love to know the writer’s definition of qualifications if these are not deemed appropriate – and impressive – credentials.”

“Dr. Kezele participated in one meeting,” continued Douglas, “and from all reports he did not bring his personal beliefs into the discussion but rather participated in the discussion at hand. What I find so very offensive about this whole situation is that it is not something I have actually done that has caused the uproar but rather what I believe that has made me, and Dr. Kezele, the target of hatefully belittling and hate-filled diatribes. To the Brahm Resniks (of 12 News) and Laurie Roberts (of The Arizona Republic) of this state my “crime” is holding a Christian worldview and speaking of it publicly; clearly an unforgiveable offense in the eyes of the secular left.”

“Again, there is no creationism or Intelligent Design in the draft Science standards,” Douglas reiterated. “Again – there are more standards dealing with evolution and climate change in the drafts than the standards currently being taught in our classrooms. But instead of acknowledging those facts thus rendering the arguments meaningless, what I have received are emotional invectives. I can only hope that people who would write such mean-spirited messages are not in our classrooms setting this type of example for our children.”

Listen to Douglas discuss the meeting with KFYI’s James T. Harris:

Related article: Douglas Proposes Adoption Of Hillsdale K-12 Standards

Douglas’ entire statement on “fake news:”

Those of you who are here or have written to demand that Creationism and Intelligent Design be removed from the draft science stands; here are the facts: if you read the actual drafts – which have been available on the ADE website every step of the way – you would know neither are in the draft standards and climate change is included.

Personally, I absolutely believe that Intelligent Design or, at the very least, Design, without subscribing it to a specific designer, should be taught alongside evolution but the courts have deemed it unconstitutional. Therefore, the focus of the draft science standards is not to introduce Intelligent Design into the standards but rather to clearly define and address the strengths and weaknesses of evolution theory; what we know and DON’T know about evolution; the positive and negative impacts of mankind on climate change. My expectation for these new standards, and all our standards, is to truly give our children the information and tools they need to become the critical thinkers we profess we want them to become.

Mr. Robert Gropp executive director of The American of Biological Sciences writes: “The standards should be revised by science and science education experts.” Mr. Gropp that is EXACTLY who was involved – 108 to be exact. For the record of the 110 people who participated in the writing/revision of the science standards exactly TWO identified themselves as parents/community members.

He concludes with “Please reject the proposed standards until fully and appropriately addressing evolution and climate change science.” The draft AZ science standards have more standards addressing both evolution and climate change than the standards currently being used in AZ classrooms today.

Again, what I expect from our standards is simply that students be taught how to analyze and evaluate all information about evolution, climate change or any other topic. Science is supposed to be about questioning and exploration not blind acceptance.

I would like to publicly apologize to Dr. Kezele for all the disrespect heaped upon him by the media and others; all of which was intended to create drama, #fakenews and “clickbait.” It is absolutely shameful, in my opinion, and it was never my intent that anyone attempting to perform a public service should be treated so disgracefully.

A Cave Creek Unified School District PhD parent wrote: “Please remove Joseph Kezele from participation in revising science curriculum standards for the AZ Public Schools. Mr. Kezele is not a scientist nor an educator, and he, therefore, should have no role in revising or creating standards.”

First, for the record, Dr. Kezele earned his medical degree at the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona and is currently an assistant biology professor at Arizona Christian University. Some of the courses he has taught over the years include Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Human Genetics, and Ecology. I’d love to know the writer’s definition of qualifications if these are not deemed appropriate – and impressive – credentials.

Dr. Kezele participated in ONE meeting and from ALL reports he did NOT bring his personal beliefs into the discussion but rather participated in the discussion at hand. What I find so very offensive about this whole situation is that it is not something I have actually done that has caused the uproar but rather what I believe that has made me, and Dr. Kezele, the target of hatefully belittling and hate-filled diatribes. To the Brahm Resniks and Laurie Roberts of this state my “crime” is holding a Christian worldview and speaking of it publicly; clearly an unforgivable offense in the eyes of the secular left.

This “protest” is indicative of the type of political agendas that are so wrong with our education system. Again, there IS NO CREATIONISM OR INTELLIGENT DESIGN IN THE DRAFT SCIENCE STANDARDS. Again – there are more standards dealing with evolution and climate change in the drafts than the standards currently being taught in our classrooms. But instead of acknowledging those facts thus rendering the arguments meaningless, what I have received are emotional invectives. I can only hope that people who would write such mean-spirited messages are not in our classrooms setting this type of example for our children.

That only certain voices or perspectives should be welcomed to the table has never been my belief or modus operandi. Intellectual diversity should be honored and respected. It is intellectually dishonest to try to control the education of our children by allowing only certain politically correct opinions and agendas into our classrooms. Under such circumstances our children are not being taught to think; they are being taught to emote.

That “the education field” should demand that only their voices be allowed at the table and parents and community members be excluded is wholly unacceptable because, quite honestly, our education system belongs to the parents and citizens of Arizona; we serve them – not vice versa.

Nonetheless, thank you for taking the time today to attend and comment. God bless.

2 Comments

  1. Too bad all of this is coming out after the primary election. Otherwise it is quite likely that the outcome of the election would have been different.

  2. No, Mr. Batista, I don’t think introducing these standards any sooner would have mattered – maybe to you but not to others. I have fought tooth and nail over the past 3+ years for the parents and children of AZ. And yet it wasn’t good enough for some people, some who post or posted on this forum, because they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, exactly how they wanted, exactly when they wanted it. It seems with Republicans if you don’t throw the 60 yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage making first downs again and again doesn’t matter. C’est la vie. I did the best I could with what I had to work with (or against as the case may be) and against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed under the circumstances. Nonetheless I will continue to do eveything I possibly can on behalf of our parents and their children until the end of my term. Despite it all, it truly has been one of the great privileges of my life to serve the people of Arizona and I thank you all for that. God bless.

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