01 February 2009

Odessa American doesn't get it

The Odessa America, commenting on the recent hearings about K-12 Texas science standards, provides an opinion piece that falls into many traps.

Now it's true that federal courts have ruled against forcing the teaching of creationism and the similar theory of intelligent design.
But that doesn't mean that teachers can't at least present both sides of the argument and use that to stimulate classroom discussion and demonstrate that there is room for both schools of thought.

Actually, that is what the law means. The American legal system been down this road many times. If you use a public school to advance a particular religious view, such as fundamentalist Christian creationism, you are violating the separation of church and state.

After all, both sides claim to have solid evidence to support their beliefs. But they are still beliefs with no definitive answer available.

Incorrect. Badly so. Evolution is not just a "belief" -- it is supported by vast heaping gobs of evidence and research. Creationism is contradicted by vast heaping gobs of evidence and research against it.

And truly, why does state government have to establish some sort of declaration on this issue?
Why not let individual school districts decide how evolution will be presented in individual communities? There's a lot to be said for local control.

Education is a state issue. Such is federalism. Many countries have national guidelines.

Sure, school districts (as well as those who teach science) would have to make decisions based on federal guidelines due to the religious nature of creationism. But there's nothing to preclude an open presentation of both strains of belief without open advocacy of either.

Yes, there is. Court case after court case after court case has ruled you can't do that. It's advocating a particular religious view. Plus, local district after local district has shown that they really don't understand the legal issues involved.

Plus it would be easier for individual school districts to make sure no teachers are running afoul of federal rulings than to have a state agency trying to monitor thousands of classrooms.

And if this happened, there would be lawsuit after lawsuit as local district decided to try setting their won standards. The Kitzmiller v. Dover story would be repeated across the state, with communities being torn apart, bad feelings, and school board incurring huge legal costs.

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