Yecke controversy evolves
If Florida K-12 Chancellor Cheri Yecke thought hiring an Internet search-and-destroy firm was going to deflate the controversy over her views on the teaching of intelligent design, she thought wrong. A few bloggers have weighed in since the June 26 St. Petersburg Times story, including Wesley Elsberry, the scientist/blogger who's central to the most recent flaring. Elsberry recently transcribed a Yecke TV interview (unearthed by another blogger) and posted it on his blog, The Austringer. He says the interview proves a tiny Minnesota newspaper was right when it summed up Yecke's views, and that Yecke is trying to scrub the truth. "As far as I'm concerned," he told The Gradebook, "this matter is now resolved."
The Gradebook isn't sure whether this next bit adds to the debate or not, but just in case, here goes: The October 2003 statement from the Princeton Union Eagle that Yecke disputes says Yecke explained that "schools could include the concept of 'intelligent design' in teaching how the world came to be." This is how The Times summed up Yecke's response: "This week she said the Union Eagle statement is inaccurate and worth setting straight because she believes such decisions should be left up to district officials." But Yecke also had this comment about the Union Eagle , which a Times editor trimmed because of space considerations: "The newspaper's summation wrongly suggested a ‘directive' on her part, she said. ‘You don't want to appear to be leading the district one way or the other,' " she said. " ‘I believe in local flexibility.' "
In all honesty, The Gradebook is too swamped with an exploding FCAT and an imploding FAMU to sit still long enough to give Yecke, evolution and intelligent design the consideration they all deserve. So here's hoping a cyber-scrum can sort it out: Does the excised Times passage make a difference? Does the TV clip make a difference? Is Yecke splitting hairs? Have bloggers gone wild? Will any of this matter if Yecke applies to be Florida's next education commissioner?
- Ron Matus, state education reporter