Friday, October 21, 2005


ACLU to Rio Rancho Teachers: Just Say No to ID

Rio Rancho science teachers are getting some advice from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico: don’t “be afraid to refuse to discuss or teach intelligent design…Any teacher who is disciplined in any way for declining to discuss or teach intelligent design should contact the ACLU immediately.”

The ACLU made those recommendations in an email letter that it sent yesterday to eighty science teachers in Rio Rancho middle and high schools. The letter responds to a recently-passed Rio Rancho school board policy on science education that many have interpreted as a tactic to introduce intelligent design, the belief that a supernatural creator ‘designed’ the universe, into science classrooms.

“We wanted science teachers to know that the ACLU supports them and that the Constitution does give them some control over this situation,” said ACLU executive director Peter Simonson. “Intelligent design is religion, not science. No credible scientist or science association endorses it. To allow the study of intelligent design in the science classroom not only would violate the school district’s standards on science education, but it also would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”

Last Friday, a group that calls itself “Pastor’s Net” held a meeting at Destiny Church in Rio Rancho to encourage students in Rio Rancho schools to provoke discussions about intelligent design in their science classes. The ACLU letter urged science teachers to respond to such activity with “a brief comment on why intelligent design is not science–and therefore not appropriate material for the science classroom–and then direct the class to legitimate science curriculum.”

Simonson said, “One of the most troubling aspects of this controversy is the willingness of some Rio Rancho school board members to make a political battleground of the classroom–and the subtle ways in which they are enlisting students to carry out their campaign. Science teachers should be left alone to carry out the important mission of delivering a legitimate science education, instead of being made a focus of religious politics.”

The ACLU has vowed to file suit against the Rio Rancho school district if it requires science teachers to promote the study of intelligent design.

Source: A news release by the ACLU of New Mexico. Also, check out the website of New Mexicans for Science and Reason for Rio Rancho Updates.


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