Inventing a Martyr? Newly-Released Documents Suggest that Christine Comer's Resignation Was Due to Misconduct, Not Views on Evolution
Late last year, a media firestorm erupted after the resignation of Texas Education Agency (TEA) science curriculum director Christine Comer. Evolution activists and media outlets both suggested that Comer was forced out of the TEA to silence her views supporting evolution after she used her official email account to publicize a propagandistic lecture by anti-ID activist and New Orleans Secular Humanist Association board member Barbara Forrest. Comer subsequently was portrayed as a veritable martyr for the pro-evolution cause, and her case received additional media attention earlier this year when she sued the TEA claiming unjust termination in violation of the Constitution.
But now it looks like Comer isn't a martyr after all. Internal TEA documents released earlier today by Texans for Better Science Education show that Comer had a long history of disciplinary problems at her agency that had nothing to do with evolution. According to the TBSE press release, the documents show:
- Multiple findings of "insubordination" and "misconduct[.]"
- Reference to possible violation of the Texas Penal Code over payments made to Comer from entities receiving TEA money under contracts she administered.
- Comer received three separate disciplinary letters spanning at least eight separate incidents. Seven of these eight incidents had nothing to do with evolution.
- Comer had been disciplined and charged with "insubordination" because she repeatedly disregarded the TEA's strict rule that staff must remain neutral and silent regarding unsettled curricular questions. Comer was charged with insubordination for violating this rule on issues that had nothing to do with evolution. In her last year alone at the TEA, Comer was found by superiors to be guilty of "insubordination" or "misconduct" on three separate occasions, including one incident where she disparaged the TEA leadership publicly.
It will be revealing to see how many media organizations cover this new information, especially those at the national level. Media outlets like the New York Times (see here and here and here) trumpeted Comer as a supposed victim of anti-evolution intolerance, even as they turned a blind eye to the widespread persecution of scientists and teachers who support intelligent design or are critical of Darwinism.
Now that there is evidence Comer was not in fact targeted for her views on evolution, will these same media organizations report the other side?