Former Gov. Jeb Bush’s National Summit on Education is slated to begin today. Among the long list of panelists set to participate is Lizzette Gonzales Reynolds, a Texas Education Agency deputy commissioner who pressured the state to fire a woman for allegedly violating Texas’ “neutrality policy” on evolution.
Last year, Reynolds pressured the state education system to fire someone over an email in violation of the state’s “neutrality policy” that tells teachers not to advocate for evolution. In 2007, Chris Comer, the former science curriculum director for the Texas Education Agency, resigned from her position over an email she forwarded to friends and colleagues about an upcoming lecture on evolution. Texas Education Agency employees are supposed to abide by a policy that forbids them from taking positions on subjects including evolution and creationism.
According to Fort Worth Weekly, Lizzette Reynolds, Gov. Rick Perry’s appointed TEA commissioner for statewide policy and programs, deemed the e-mail both offensive and in violation of TEA policy. Comer was told to send out a second e-mail as a disclaimer, and TEA administrators also told her to choose between being fired and quitting her job.
The panel in which Reynolds will participate during Bush’s education summit will focus on how “two-thirds [of students] don’t gain the skills to compete in the global economy” and “what is being done to get students ready for post-secondary education.”
According to many proponents (.pdf) of evolution education, the failure to teach modern science often deprives students of the fundamental tenets of biology and medicine — both of which are seemingly key to a student’s competitiveness in college.
Calls to Reynolds’ office about her inclusion in the panel have not been returned.