Tuesday, February 01, 2005

And the egg lays a chicken

Fern in Hocking HillsThe New York Times > Science > Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes:

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.

In the discussion over how to respond broadly to the anti-evolution movement, there's a strong case to be made for more and better public education. Lawsuits only go so far. But if we fight like hell to get evolution back into the school standards, and the teachers just leave it out of the classes, this battle will never end.

There are arguments to be made that the teachers who omit essential material from the discussion are providing a substandard education, and lawsuits are at least an option, but how do we monitor it? There needs to be a systematic survey of evolution education across school districts in order to evaluate adherence to state and local teaching standards.

Congressional Democrats should push to include evolutionary knowledge part of the federal standards No Child Left Behind enforces.

This is a great wedge issue if Democrats would just get themselves together. It's simple. Evolution is useful and necessary. Schools that don't teach it don't adequately prepare students in biology. That means they can't be good doctors, scientists, or even lawyers. A good preparation in logic and general knowledge of the world is necessary for any of those. Parents, teachers and students would all love to have someone backing them up. Moderate republicans would be torn between the people they voted for and the people looking out for their schools and communities. Republican politicians would either abandon their conservative base, or the moderates.

Secret of the Sea” by Billy Bragg & Wilco from the album Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 (2000, 2:42).