Thursday, March 23, 2006

Arkansas

Jason Wiles writes of trouble in Arkansas:
Teachers at his facility are forbidden to use the “e-word” (evolution) with the kids. They are permitted to use the word “adaptation” but only to refer to a current characteristic of an organism, not as a product of evolutionary change via natural selection. They cannot even use the term “natural selection.” Bob feared that not being able to use evolutionary terms and ideas to answer his students’ questions would lead to reinforcement of their misconceptions.

But Bob’s [a geologist] personal issue was more specific, and the prohibition more insidious. In his words, “I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD ... but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old.”
The whole piece is spectacularly depressing. Teachers in the state where "balanced treatment" laws were struck down discussing how they implement balanced treatment, educators who want to teach about evolution being scared off from it by community pressure, and comments like this from Governor (and presidential candidate) Huckabee:
I think schools also ought to be fair to all views. Because, frankly, Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that’s why it’s called the theory of evolution. And I think that what I’d be concerned with is that it should be taught as one of the views that’s held by people. But it’s not the only view that’s held. And any time you teach one thing as that it’s the only thing, then I think that has a real problem to it.
This was a response to a student asking why evolution isn't covered better in the state's schools.

It's also worth noting that several people who expressed concern about community pressure were not in public schools or institutions, but at private educational facilities – museums and science centers – which serve public and private groups. Anyone who thinks private schools would be immune to creationist pressures is dreaming.