Monday, February 21, 2005


Academic Freedom, Part 2

In a post titled "The Philosopher, Stoned" (see below) Red State Rabble took a look at the issue of academic freedom as it relates to science standards and the curriculum. Left unexplored in that post was the question of what actually happens in science classrooms around the country -- even when the curriculum calls for the teaching of evolution.

At the science standards hearing held in Derby, Kan., for example, Mark Neas, a science teacher with 16 years experience and a master's degree in science education, said, "I cannot teach a science class without stopping and giving God a little bit of credit ..."

This reminded Red State Rabble of our own experience in high school Biology, when we were exiled to the library for defending Darwin and evolution to a class in which the teacher presented Genesis as the true origin story and neglected to present any of the concepts of evolution to our class.

"In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue," according to Cornelia Dean, of the New York Times. "Teaching guides and textbooks may meet the approval of biologists, but superintendents or principals discourage teachers from discussing it. Or teachers themselves avoid the topic, fearing protests from fundamentalists in their communities."

Then, there is this...

"In some areas of the country, many biology teachers are themselves believers in creationism," reports the Bennington Banner. "A 1998 doctoral dissertation found that 24 percent of the biology teachers sampled in Louisiana said that creationism had a scientific foundation and that 17 percent were not sure. Several surveys have shown that many teachers give at least some instructional time to creationism or intelligent design out of a sense of fairness.

Red State Rabble believes that the academic freedom argument put forward by intelligent design proponents is not only false, but that more students than we realize are the victims of Christian fundamentalist teachers who ignore the curriculum and proselytize for their particular faith before a captive audience of students.


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