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[Fwd: Open letter to President-Elect Obama]

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  • Ariel T.
    Dear friends: I am distributing this to everyone I know who might conceivably be able to get it to the actual final addressee – soon! As outlined in
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9 5:03 PM
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      Dear friends: I am distributing this to everyone I know who might conceivably be able to get it to the actual final addressee – soon! As outlined in Wikipedia, “Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six ‘steps’ away from each person on Earth.” I hope that at least one of you (‘extended’ you…) is within the six degrees of separation between me and President-Elect Obama, and will be able to make it possible for someone to place a copy of this in his hands. 

      Some of you may disagree with me, or may get tired of seeing it arrive in your in-box or wherever. If so, please excuse me. Please note that I am sending this to myself as primary addressee, and all others are Bcc - blind copies. To the best of my knowledge, this will keep all your e-mail addresses confidential.

      Please refrain from sending it to any mass media before Thursday 13 November 2008.


      - We are all Human beings here together. We have to help one another, since otherwise there is NO ONE who will help. 
      - All countries need NO REGRETS strategic policies regarding every non-renewable resource, including water.
      - Plan ahead seven generations -- reduce all your consumption, and eliminate waste.

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      --------------------------------- Original Message ---------------------------------
      Subject: Open letter to President-Elect Obama
      From: "Ariel T."
      Date: Sun, November 9, 2008 18:00
      To: viewpoints@...
      Dear Houston Chronicle editorial friends:

      I am submitting this for publication somewhere on your Editorial or Opinion pages. I realize it is too long for your normal Letters to the Editor, but I request that you consider not editing it if you choose to print it.

      I will wait a few days, and if I don't see it in the Chronicle, I will submit it to other media. Thank you. I will also disseminate it to friends, requesting that they refrain from sending it to any mass media at least until Thursday 13 November 2008.
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      The Future of Science Teaching in Texas and the U.S.A.




      Dear President-Elect Obama:




      This is an urgent request for your assistance in a matter of critical importance for the country. I hope that at least one person who reads it can then have it placed in your hands in a timely manner.




      Sir, Austin, Texas is a very progressive city in many respects. But, Austin is also where the Texas State Board of Education holds its “deliberations”. The Board has the power to decide what goes into public school curricula and textbooks to be used in Texas for the next several years – up to ten years. Texas is the nation’s largest purchaser of such books, so textbook publishers historically prefer to print only textbooks accepted by this Texas Board. Publishers then push these books for adoption by school districts throughout the country.




      The Board is dominated by a small clique of ideologues. A few years ago they espoused the cause of “abstinence only” in high school health textbooks. It became quite a battle; Texas teen pregnancy rates attest to their victory. Earlier this year, they revised the standards for “language arts” (reading skills, literature and grammar). They succeeded in removing the needed emphasis on critical or analytical thinking or comprehension.




      Next in the sights of the Board: science curricula and textbooks. All indications are that we will witness a repetition of what happened in Kansas a few years ago, when an equally committed but misguided group of persons in positions of authority succeeded in re-defining science to include the supernatural (fortunately that was overridden rather quickly). We fear that we will see a repetition of the Scopes “monkey trial”, and that the wise, recent precedent of Kitzmiller vs. Board of Education will be turned on its head.




      The first public hearing on revised science curricula and textbooks will take place in Austin on Wednesday, 19 November 2008. It promises to be a long, tedious day with hundreds of citizens lining up to give their individual 3-minute blurbs on where they stand on the issues. Many among us who will be unable to attend in person will instead submit written statements.




      Senator Obama, I have read very carefully your replies to the questions posed to you by the “Science Debate 2008”. Based on that, I think you will be made sick by what we fear will take place in Austin in just a few days – particularly if you consider what the Board’s expected actions would do to the minds of your own children if they were in public schools in Texas. Also, what such actions stand to do to the minds of public school students nationwide for up to a decade – and the residual effects for many years to come, if today’s children grow into adults handicapped by a deficient understanding of science.




      Sir, I hope you will find a way to give your personal statement to the Texas Board of Education – ideally, in person. I understand the enormous pressures on your time as you now prepare to assume your welcome leadership role. If you are unable to be in Austin to voice your views, I hope you will at least be willing and able to submit a written statement – and to ensure that it is disseminated widely.








      Ariel J. Thomann, M.D.
      755 International Blvd., # 133
      Houston, Texas 77024
      (713) 252-4408 (cellular)

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