Wednesday, June 12, 2024

#2781: Diane Douglas

Diane Douglas served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2015 to 2019, a position she used to try to do as much damage to public education as possible. She was generally recognized as being completely incompetent and unqualified even at the time she was elected in 2014, and immediately faced a recall effort by voters who accurately judged her to be not qualified for the position.


Of course, one of the issues Douglas had with public schools was that they teach evolution. Douglas is a creationist. So in 2018, she tapped local young-earth creationist Joseph Kezele, who is convinced that the Earth is just 6000 years old and that dinosaurs were present on Noah’s Ark (“plenty of space on the Ark for dinosaurs – no problem”), to review the proposed new standards on how to teach evolution. Douglas’s chief of staff, Michael Bradley (surely not this Michael Bradley, though that Michael Bradley has views on evolution, too), defended the appointment by falsely claiming that[w]e wanted to include a wide variety of views so that we’d get the best product possible,” adding, as if relevant, that Christian religious beliefs are widely held by a broad segment of Americans.


Also pior to appointing Kezele, Douglas had worked hard for some time to get public education more in line with her brand of religious fundamentalism; she had already for instance taken a red pen to the proposed science standards to strike or qualify the word ‘evolution’ wherever it occurred, and in a candidate forum in 2017, she explitly called for creationism to be taught along with evolution. One of her justifications was that school children should be aware that evolution is – wait for it – just a theory; it is very “theoretical” and not “proven, according to Douglas. In particular, she challenged scientists toshow me where any scientist has proven or replicated that life came from non-living matter [which has nothing to do with evolution] or that, in the example we see in the museums, that man evolved from an ape. There’s no proof to that.


Oh, and Douglas did not restrict herself to deleting mentions of evolution; references to climate change in the high school earth and space science standards were deleted as well. But of course.


Indeed, Douglas ultimately suggested that Arizona adopt heavily Bible-centered charter school standards crafted by Hillsdale College, a private Christian school, for all public schools in the state, calling them the “gold standard for K-12 academics.”


Her efforts were, fortunately – and despite support from the Discovery Instituteunsuccessful.


Diagnosis: How someone with such a fundamental lack of understanding of science could end up in a position to have power over the science standards in public education should have been a serious mystery but isn’t. A complete moron who, as so many people do, fill the gaping holes in her knowledge and understanding with fervent religious fundamentalism and denialism. 


  1. Why did she leave that office in 2019? Voted out?

  2. She finished third (!) in the republican primary. The Democrat won the general election.