Bill in Texas would allow creationists to grant Masters of Science degrees
If a private college doesn't receive funds from any governmental organization, should they have to be held to any standards or requirements when they award degrees? No, one Texan lawmaker is insisting.
Texas State Representative Leo Berman has proposed House Bill 2800, which would exempt any private non-profit institution that requires students to complete “substantive course work” from having to acquire a certificate of authority from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board(THECB). “If you don’t take any federal funds, if you don’t take any state funds, you can do a lot more than some business that does take state funding or federal funding,” Berman says. “Why should you be regulated if you don’t take any state or federal funding?”
Because creationism isn't science, critics argue.
Berman admits that his 'inspiration' for the bill was the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School, a Young Earth Creationism institution that has been trying to achieve certification in Texas for two years. Young Earth Creationism, much more popular than the recent Intelligent Design Creationism, is essentially Biblical literalism – Earth is 10,000 years old, Noah's Flood occurred, Adam and Eve were real people. ICRGS insists that they teach more than just “Biblical Creationism," which is based only on the word of the Bible; they also have incorporated tenets of “Scientific Creationism” into their bylaws. Most of these relate to origins of Earth and the evolution of species. Originally the creationist research branch of Christian Heritage College in San Diego, the ICRGS was forced to split from that college when California regulators threatened to take away its certification. Now, the ICRGS operates mostly online, and its Masters of Science Degree is recognized by California and federal law. According to its website, however, Texas residents cannot receive a degree.
Degree-granting colleges and universities in Texas currently must be issued a certificate of authority by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The certificate allows the holder to grant a degree that a graduate would need to apply for a teaching position in a Texas public school. If House Bill 2800 was made into law, only state-funded colleges and universities would have to report to THECB; everyone else would be free to design their curriculums without any regulation.
Critics of Berman's bill are enraged, claiming that it will de-legitimize any degree coming out of Texas. Eugenie Scott, executive director for the National Center for Science Education, told Foxnews.com that “all you have to do...is start a non-profit organization, don’t take any federal or state money, and then offer degrees in any fool subject you want. Teaching that the Earth is only 10,000 years old is a little irregular in modern science.”
In June 2006, the Institute for Creation Research established the Henry M. Morris Center for Christian Leadership in Dallas, Texas. ICR said that the move to Texas occurred because of a more central national location, proximity to a major airport, and a greater suitable population for their ministry. However, accreditation for their graduate program is still not recognized under Texas law. According to their website, "ICR is currently examining its legal options regarding how it can best serve the educational 'gaps' of Texas residents."
An extensive article by Steven Schafersman of Texas Citizens for Science detailing the long history of ICRGS and its quest for certification can be found here.
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