We’ve seen a shift in emphasis on science in Texas schools.
Unfortunately, it's a shift from science to dogma.
President Eisenhower, a nominal Texan due to his birth in Denison, pushed the nation's educational system to science and math after the U.S.S.R. shocked the world with Sputnik. Within two months after Sputnik, Eisenhower pushed a billion dollar federal outlay to promote education, particularly in science and mathematics. That's a billion 1957 dollars.
The Johnson Space Center bolstered that investment, and Texas enjoyed the economic fruits that science and math bring.
However, the last decade's shift from science to dogma diverted public school funds away from public schools. That will cost Texas.
One can readily see the value of the evangelistic impulse in marketing and advertising. Volume, volume, volume, as David Letterman used to say, brings great economic value.
However, those who categorize science as a belief rather than a study and discovery of reality have hurt the state. This willful push away from the sciences will push away the state's economic opportunities.
This isn't an empty rant. Last year, Texas lost Sematech, a key player in the future of computer chips, to New York, of all states. A global consortium founded in Austin in 1986, the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative moved to New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
I sense there are many who don’t understand that leaps in technology depend on practical applications of science. Each step in theoretical mathematics, applied mathematics, the laws of mechanics, the continuing discovery of chemical and physical transformations of matter on the periodical table, biology and the numerous other branches of science—always opens new possibilities of technical development. And as technology moves, the economy moves.
China now nips at the nation’s heels as the second largest economy. It is making a huge push in the sciences, including space.
Educational achievement contributes to economic achievement. If the emphasis by both state and private budgets are not shifted back to science and math, and the state’s universities are hamstrung in their ability to attract both top scholars and students, Texas’ economy will dwindle, and continue to dwindle in significance.
I realize Texas is not the only state suffering from this plague of what only can be called willful ignorance. But Texas lags behind many. Don’t let debates over guns and immigration obscure the real crisis. Don’t let dogma kill science and turn Texas into a backward, superstitious caricature of itself.
Eisenhower did warn against letting policy “ become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” However, Texas has done its’ job too well. We’re becoming the captive of the anti-science elite who don’t consider the source of their computers, iPhones, medical support systems and industry.
We’re biting the hand that has fed us, and fed us well.