Stephanie Simon of the Journal reports today on what Sciencebloggers already know: that the creationists have shifted their tactics from focusing on activism on local school boards to pitching their cause to state legislators:
Their new tactic: Embrace lessons on evolution. In fact, insist students deserve to learn more — including classes that probe the theory for weakness. They believe — and their opponents agree — that this approach will prove more acceptable to the public and harder to challenge in court.
Those promoting the new bills emphasize that academic freedom doesn’t mean biology teachers can read aloud from the Book of Genesis. “This doesn’t bring religion into the classroom,” said Florida state Rep. D. Alan Hays, a Republican.
The bills typically restrict lessons to “scientific” criticism of evolution, or require that critiques be presented “in an objective manner,” or approved by a local school board.
And the polling numbers don’t look good.
Here, creationists have so much power because it seems as though most people simply don’t care about the issue. In that type of situation, a well organized, loud minority group can foist its policy agenda upon the public at large.
It would be interesting to see how much these groups really are committed to the principles of academic freedom. Would they support, for instance, a bill that allowed teachers to discuss sexual health and education without parental permission? Or one that “taught the debate” that masturbation is normal and healthy? One would quickly find that these groups don’t actually like freedom in the classroom, except when it comes to their pet subject.
12 thoughts on “The New Academic Freedom”
So essentially they are pushing affirmative action programs to get creationism into schools. Gotta love the irony.
The first question about that pole is what precisly does it mmean when it says “Questions are paraphrased”. If different people were asked differnt questions, or were asked a question other than is published then the pole is completly meaningless.
They might as well teach the students that some people believe that crop circles are evidence of alien visitations. In fact ID and crop circle belief have a lot in common:
Some being(s) that are beyond our understanding are visiting/watching us.
They choose not to reveal themselves overtly but have chosen to leave cryptic clues or hints that they exist.
We cannot divine their intentions from their handiwork.
The materialists deny their existence because it threatens their grip on power.
Kind of spooky eh?
Someone fire this man, stat.
Doug Cowan, a public-school biology teacher, said his colleagues are often afraid to speak out.
Mr. Cowan said he tells students: “I’m going to give you the evidence for evolution and the evidence against, and let you decide.” For instance, he’ll mention Darwin’s observation that finches evolve different-shaped beaks to suit different ecosystems. Then he’ll add that you don’t see a finch changing into another species.
Asked what evidence he presents to bolster evolution, Mr. Cowan paused. “I don’t have any,” he said.
Mr. Cowan’s principal said that teachers are not supposed to veer from the approved textbooks. That’s why Mr. Cowan would like a legal guarantee he can teach as he sees fit.
“This is America,” Mr. Cowan said. “My gosh. Why walk on eggshells?”
Who is the minority group?
A major point that seems to be missed is that “Intelligent Design” represents the belief system and philosophie of its subscribers. It is not science as it is not based on empiric evidence and can not be tested.
Should it be taught in schools? Well, that depends entirely on which class it is taught and in what manner. I have a big problem with it being taught in Science class, because it has nothing to do with science. Evolution is based entirely on empiric data and is testable. Evolution is a science. It therefore belongs in the Science class.
Many schools offer Social Studies classes in which the doctrines of many religions and belief systems are taught matter-of-factly. Philosophies of many cultures are presented in these classes. I would have no problem including ID as a belief system in such classes. Nobody seems upset when Social Studies classes teach Greek Mythology.
Keep belief systems and philosophies in the appropriate classes. Keep science in Science class.
Actually, if we could convince kids that masturbation is normal and healthy, they would probably do it less. I know I would: where’s the fun in that?
@deepsix, the minority group here is the creationists. Not minority in sense of race but in intensity of commitment to creationism.
Thanks, Chris. But, are they really the minority?
While I do not live in any of the 5 states mentioned in the WSJ article, I am very troubled by this development and have great sympathy to those who do live in these states.( Here is NJ, this really isn’t an issue. Yet.)I usually sarcastically report on various types of woo I come into contact with via the media. I am beyond sarcasm (for the time being anyway). I am horrified. However, you mention the tactics of a “loud, well-organized ” minority: couldn’t we also use these same tactics to represent our position? This blog is certainly a step in that direction.APPLAUSE.
Bingo! This test has already been performed in the Florida legislature. From the April 19 Bradenton Herald:
Would they support, for instance, a bill that allowed teachers to discuss sexual health and education without parental permission? Or one that “taught the debate” that masturbation is normal and healthy? One would quickly find that these groups don’t actually like freedom in the classroom, except when it comes to their pet subject.
Thank you! Finally, someone says what I’ve been thinking. And while we’re teaching about ‘normal and healthy’ sexual behaviors, why don’t we also teach that being gay is perfectly normal and healthy? I’m pretty sure it’d be shot down as well, but it has much more of a basis in science than creationism. If teachers are forced to ‘teach the controversy’, why couldn’t they just assign a paper on Why Creationism Isn’t Science (I’ll Leave You to Count the Ways)? It’d be good for the kiddies’ critical thinking skills, and debunk creationism at the same time. And maybe afterwards they could go home and explain it to their parents…and/or religious leader.
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