Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Evolution in the Classroom

Never a fan of beaurocracy, I have never been impressed by statewide teaching standards, but it seems they do have their uses. For one Georgia teacher, citing standards allowed her to redirect the concern of parents and administrators about teaching evolution in her high school biology class to the state level, rather than having to fight the battle again and again herself:
"I thought I was going crazy," said Ms. New, who has won several outstanding teacher awards and is one of only two teachers at her school with national board certification. The other is her husband, Ward.

"It takes a lot to stand up and be willing to have people angry at you," she said. But Ms. New did. She repeatedly urged her supervisors to read Georgia's science standards, particularly S7L5, which calls for teaching evolution.

On May 5, 2005, she filled out a complaint to initiate a grievance under state law, writing that she was being "threatened and harassed" though "I am following approved curriculum." She also wrote, "If we could get together within 24 hours and settle this and I feel I have support to teach the standards, then I would tear it up."

Suddenly the superintendent was focused on standards. Mr. Moye called the state department's middle school science supervisor and asked about evolution. "Obviously the State Department of Education supports evolution," Mr. Moye said in an interview.

Obviously? So why call? "I wanted to be sure," he said. "Let's make sure what these standards are."

He added: "I feel strongly about the Georgia standards. I think it's very important. Obviously we'll teach standards; that's the law. We will do everything in accordance with the Department of Education."

And parents' rights? "I explained to parents that we're following the state standards," Mr. Moye said. "I said, 'You can believe what you want, but we have to teach the standards.' If they're upset, they can take it up on the state level."

The superintendent, principal and Ms. Greene all praised Ms. New's ability. "The lady's an excellent teacher," Mr. Moye said, adding, "Maybe she felt like the school system didn't support her. We certainly support her."

Ms. New said that from then on, including the entire 2005-06 school year, she had no problem teaching evolution. "What saved me, was I didn't have to argue evolution with these people. All I had to say was, 'I'm following state standards.' "
All other things aside, it seems to me that there's a value to knowing about a controversial topic like evolution, even if you don't yourself ascribe to it.

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