Monday, July 25, 2005


A Modest Proposal

Over at Pharyngula, the venerable PZ Myers has a post up about "The state of high school biology teaching" based on an interview with Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, that was published in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Here's a disturbing excerpt from the interview, "Why Many Biology Teachers Aren't Teaching Evolution" by Richard Monastersky that Myers flags in his post:

Q. Your work shows that many teachers -- nearly 40 percent -- are not teaching evolution, even if they believe it. Why?

A. It's just simpler for them to avoid it, politically. Their kids are on the same Little League teams as the kids of other parents. ... Biology teachers are pressured to not teach evolution and/or to teach creationism. Almost half of biology teachers report being pressured one way or the other, or both for many.

The question of what to do with students who want to attend college, but have graduated from school districts that do not teach evolution was also the subject of some give and take in a Washington Post on-line chat with Peter Slevin a couple of days ago. A participant in the chat from Ashburn, Va. made the following comment:
"A better strategy may be to persuade companies in the biological sciences fields to have policies that they will not locate their facilities in jurisdictions which are anti-evolution, or from universities that will not admit students to the biological science faculties who come from such an education-impaired region of the country. Any thoughts on this?"

We have seen this discussion before, most notably in 1999 when the Kansas State Board of Education voted to de-emphasize evolution.

RSR does not think it's fair to exclude students who attend these benighted school districts, after all, the sins of the fathers -- and mothers -- should not be visited on the children. However, many universities do require students to have a minimal competency in subjects such as math and English. Most schools also have foreign language requirements, as well.

We do not think it unreasonable to test incoming freshmen on their knowledge of evolution, and require those who do not pass to take a remedial course as a minimal requirement for graduation, or acceptance into a major in the sciences or education.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?