Kathy Cox’s exit interview: ‘04 attempt to remove ‘evolution’ was a mistake

While she was state school superintendent, Kathy Cox didn’t often mix with members of the fourth estate.

Former state school superintendent Kathy Cox at a going-away part last week. Bob Andres bandres@ajc.com

Former state school superintendent Kathy Cox at a going-away part last week. Bob Andres bandres@ajc.com

But in an exit interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) the state’s former top educator addressed two sensitive topics: Her 2004 attempt to strike references to “evolution,” in favor of the term “biological changes over time,” and her personal declaration of bankruptcy in 2008.

O’Hayer has posted the first portion of that interview here.

On evolution, Cox said:

“It was a great lesson for me….The standards are more than a classroom teacher. They represent something to the larger public. They represent something to the larger entity of the nation. And that was a great lesson for me, that I needed to step out of my shoes as a teacher sometimes and see the bigger picture.

“And even though I was trying to make it so that our science standards could be such that a teacher anywhere in the state could teach what they needed to teach, it wasn’t the right decision from the bigger picture.

“And, boy, did I learn that in a hurry – and kind of had it handed to me in a hurry. We quickly changed….They also saw me stand up as a public official, an elected public official, and say, ‘I messed up. But I’m going to fix it, and I’m not going to waste any time fixing it.’”

Two months after Cox gave away $1 million won in a game show, the state school superintendent and her home-builder husband filed for personal bankruptcy in November 2008.

Cox said her dire financial situation didn’t distract her from her duties:

“I think it made me a better state school superintendent, because the budget situation was real to me….

“You don’t judge. Especially as teachers. We only see one or two sides of a child and their family. And we’re so quick sometimes to judge. And teachers especially have a tendency, when kids are struggling, to blame parents, or to point the finger, or to say why don’t the parents do this, this and this.

“And I’ll tell you, going through what I’ve been through as a parent and everything – I’m a much better teacher and educator because I’m not going to sit in judgment of other people.”

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28 comments Add your comment

John K

July 6th, 2010
11:25 am

I think focusing more on the educational needs of Georgia’s students than trying to appease delusional fundamentalists is the way to go.

Big Jim

July 6th, 2010
11:28 am

Agree with John K.
Why to religious fundamentalists still exist?

Bill

July 6th, 2010
11:38 am

The Georgia School System is a joke(hasn’t got any better in 15 years, I guess we should blame that on Busch too), Barnes(another joke) will make it better with money the State does not have. Let the private industry take over and our kids will be better off. They do not need to be taught how to be good government citizens anymore. Kick the kids out that our trouble makers, not all kids are equal and can learn at the same speed(cold hard painfull, truth)

Conservative

July 6th, 2010
11:47 am

Glad this crazy is leaving the state!

schrutebeets

July 6th, 2010
12:04 pm

The most profound debunker of the theory of evolution is the theory’s own persistence.

Dave Dawg

July 6th, 2010
12:08 pm

No Bill, but we might blame it on Bush. Next time, learn how to spell the last name of the former president of the United States of America before commenting on an education blog.

Whacks Eloquent

July 6th, 2010
12:08 pm

Funny, it really shouldn’t be that difficult an issue to work around. When I taught science, namely earth sciences, kids would ask me about geologic time and evolution, and say they didn’t believe in those because of their religious convictions. I simply told them that I was not trying to change their mind on it, but that they needed to know about the consensus of mainstream science on those issues. They never pushed it further, the key is to respect their opinions too. I have heard of some teachers who feel it is their duty to make kids believe in the religion of science, I just couldn’t go there – perhaps because I have my own religious beliefs. Seriously, if you want your kids to believe in creationism, teach them at home and at church. I’d hate to see the already BS-saddled gov’t educational system have to try to teach all the different creation angles from all religions.

Beeg Boi

July 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

People in Jawja don’t believe in evolution, but they do believe in WMD. How’s that for shock and awe?

Dave

July 6th, 2010
12:31 pm

Dave Dawg is leech to the world/USA and welfare. Get a real job, you smoocher.

lmno

July 6th, 2010
12:54 pm

Politicians rarely admit mistakes until they are already out of office.

While I find it refreshing that she admits she was wrong to try to change the wording of the texts, I would have found it much moreso had she done that 4 years ago.

4Real?

July 6th, 2010
12:54 pm

Maybe Bill was thinking we may blame education on beer and not the former President..lol

Jon but not Jon Voight

July 6th, 2010
1:12 pm

Kathy Cox is a theory and should be debated as one.

The Udder Side!!!!!

July 6th, 2010
1:17 pm

Bill

July 6th, 2010
11:38 am

Bill, after reading your post, I sincerly hope that you are not a product of Private Schools….Your grammer, and spelling would get you kicked out of even the lowest performing public school!!! Remember, Reading is fundamental!!!! dumb azz!!!!! LOL

Michael

July 6th, 2010
1:22 pm

The Udder Side, is married to his sister.

Kathy, you're gone. You don't have kowtow to the mouthbreaters anymore

July 6th, 2010
1:24 pm

“And even though I was trying to make it so that our science standards could be such that a teacher anywhere in the state could teach what they needed to teach, it wasn’t the right decision from the bigger picture.”

Kathy you’re gone. You don’t need to appease the mouthbreathers anymore. This had nothing to do with supporting teachers and everything to do pandering to the religious right so you could get re-elected.

Even people who couldn’t pass the CRCT on their best day are smart enough to figure that out, so please, just go away.

The Udder Side!!!!!

July 6th, 2010
1:37 pm

Michael

July 6th, 2010
1:22 pm

I might be married to my sister, but I do REALLY bad things with your siter and your mom!!!!

CDog

July 6th, 2010
2:15 pm

The definition of evolution and what kind of evolution you are talking about are very important to the discussion. Microevolution (horizontal change within a kind of living thing) is observable, demonstrable, and reproducible. It is science and should in science textbooks. Macroevolution (vertical change between kinds of living things) and Organic Evolution (life arising from non-life) are not observable, demonstrable, or reproducible. They are assumed to be true on faith and are not science and should not be included in science textbooks. They are the result of a religious worldview that wishes to explain everything in terms of naturalism and materialism. The aspects of evolution that fall outside the realm of empirical science should not be shielded from criticism.

Both creationists and evolutionists believe in “change over time.” The issue is how much change and how much time. When you make a claim about something that supposedly happened millions/billions of years ago or over millions/billions of years, you are dealing with something that was not observed and is unobservable. You have moved from the realm of empirical science (which deals with the present) to forensics. You have to make assumptions about what happened in the distant past (since no human was there to observe it supposedly) and your assumptions will be determined by your religious worldview.

Misty

July 6th, 2010
2:27 pm

Gee Kathy, you should sue the AJC for printing that picture!!! They could’ve found at least ONE picture that was more flattering to you.

cs

July 6th, 2010
2:47 pm

ole zig zag kathy, the posterchild for pure RINOism. She is one of the roy barnes republicans that crammed the blue rag down our throats and got us the ole perdue rag later. i dint know about the bankruptcy but she should have to pay the debtors being she gave her 1 million of winnings on are you smarter than a 5th grader away. the very fact she gave the money away while having her debtors eat dirt proves she is short on character and ethics….

ATF

July 6th, 2010
3:10 pm

Genetics is teaching us more about evolution and the possibility that different forms of life did evolve from the primal goo. According to an article in National Geographic, the gene that thickens the jaw of species of the chiclid fish in Africa is the same gene that shapes the beak of the Galapagos ground finch. There is a gene that is that is critical to both the speech of humans and the song of birds.

The arguments about teaching evolution as science need to be scientific arguments. The problem with the religious arguments are that they cannot scientifically prove evolution wrong and cannot scientifically prove the Bible right. Science allows argument and doubt – religion does not.

Lets “render unto Caesar” the field of science as being science and not confuse science with religion. Teach science in school and creation in church. I am not confused by the idea that there are two competing and contradictory stories – but I am looking forward to the day that I will understand how both are true. Of course, I will be dead and won’t be able to tell you what God says. You will have to complete that journey, too, to finally have the answer.

I am God’s whether or not I was a gleam in His eye at the moment of the Big Bang or at the moment of the creation of Adam.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

John Galt

July 6th, 2010
9:35 pm

Is the Earth only 6,000 years old, or is it billions of years old? Both can’t be true.

Aubrey Corbitt

July 6th, 2010
9:40 pm

As a former county school superintendent during Kathy’s tenure at the state level, I always appreciated her genuine love for the students we all served.

Sarah Pallas

July 7th, 2010
1:08 am

I think her comments are disingenuous. It was and is very clear that Cox was not trying to help teachers teach evolution. She was sacrificing Georgia students and Georgia’s economy to appease a fringe group. Her curriculum removed not only biological evolution, but also stellar evolution, plate tectonics, Big Bang, and anything that didn’t fit with a young earth creationist view that the earth is 6000 years old and people used to keep dinosaurs as pets. Even sex was removed, because fundamentalists don’t want their kids learning about that either. On the bright side, because of her mistake and the strong negative reaction across the world, the curriculum got the attention that it needed from science professionals and now it is reasonably good.

Port O'John

July 7th, 2010
9:49 am

What’s that beeping noise?

Must be Kathy Cox slamming into reverse and claiming that she did not, after all, try to get the word ‘evolution’ out of the science books.

We need to build more prisons because kids in Georia certainly aren’t learning enough to keep them out of jail. (That was satire, by the way.)

ANGRY AS HELL

July 7th, 2010
12:03 pm

Yeah, “Bill,” that’s a great idea. Let’s run schools like a for-profit business, and our kids will end up earning even less when day-to-day decisions are made based on a profit motive. Is the answer to all of our problems “the Free Enterprise System”? The Free Enterpriose System will encourage packing more and more kids into each classroom because that will help the bottom line. Bill, you need to look at schoold systems outside of this country and see what makes theirs more successful than our system in the good ‘ol USA. Do you know whaty you’re going to find, Bill, these contries put education as the primary goal for society. That’s why kids in almost all developed countries in the world are kicking our butts when it comes to performance and results. In most developed countries arounhd the world, teachers are respected and treatwed as national treasures. Children outside of this country often speak 2 or sometimes 3 other languages besides their own. There are kids all over this country who can barely speak English. And if you do a little research, Bill, you’ll learn that almost none of those schools systems run their schools like a for-profit business enterprise. They run it with one major target in mind: educating their children. Do a little research, Bill, beyond the business or Chamber of Commerce dribble you apparently read. (You do read, don’t you, Bill?)

Gator Nation

July 7th, 2010
10:43 pm

Hey CDOG,

I hope you have the strength to stand by your convictions. That means that you should not go to see a doctor when you or your family are sick. Because the same science that you are stating “was not observed and is unobservable” is the science that also drives much of the medical and pharmaceutical treatments that cure diseases and prolongs human life. The flintstones maybe a cartoon my friend, but dinosaur bones are real.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution Political Insider-Jim Galloway Kathy Cox’s exit interview: ‘04 attempt to remove ‘evolution’ was a mistake 10:24 am July 6, 2010, by Jim Galloway [excerpt, full article at:] http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2010/07/06/kathy-coxs-exit-interview-on-evolutio... [...]