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OH MY GOD — THEY’RE TEACHING MY CHILD EVOLUTION

Jan 23rd, 2005 by James Breedlove | 0

Recent test scores released by the Program for International Student Assessment show that 15-year olds from the United States are below average compared to peers in Europe, Asia, Scandinavia and Canada.  The international tests do not measure a student’s retention but gauge the skills students have in applying their learning to problems of everyday life.  The United States was also cited as having substandard outcomes per dollar spent on education.  It ranked 28th of the 40 participating countries in math and 18th in reading. 

 

Perhaps one of the reasons our children are not learning the 3 R’s as well as children in many other countries is the difficulty schools have in deciding what to teach.  It seems that non-traditional subject matter that would better prepare students for the real world, especially high school students, is often shunned.  

 

For example school districts in several states are entrenched in legal squabbles over teaching evolution vs. creation—one of the many education distractions.

 

This controversy has been around for ages but continues in new forms today.  In 1999 the Kansas Board of Education, at the urging of conservative Christians, voted to remove all references to the evolution theory from the list of subjects tested on state standardized tests, encouraging local school boards to drop or de-emphasize evolution.  Kansas voters responded by throwing out enough anti-evolution Board members to rescind the change and set the stage for more conflict.  

 

Ohio is also considering changes in its science curriculum to include the teaching of an alternative to evolution.  In Dover, Pennsylvania a group of parents filed a federal lawsuit to prevent the school district from including “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolutionary theory.   It seems Dover school board members had the strange notion that offering students a more balanced view of how the Earth and its inhabitants came into being would broaden their education.

 

Conflict between science and religion began well before Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species in 1859.  However, in the United States the most famous of these controversies was the 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial“.   John Scopes, a Dayton, Tennessee high school teacher, agreed to deliberately ignore a state law forbidding teaching “any theory that denies the story of divine creation of man as taught in the Bible”.   The case drew national attention and became a legal circus, not because of the constitutionality of the anti-religion charges, but because of the showboating of the renowned Clarence Darrow and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.

 

At trials end the question of whether the First Amendment permitted states to ban teaching of a theory that contradicted religious beliefs was not resolved.  Not until 1968 did the Supreme Court rule in Epperson vs. Arkansas that such bans conflict with the First Amendment because their primary purpose is religious. 

 

 

This precedent was used in 1987 to strike down a Louisiana law that required biology teachers to simultaneously teach the theory of evolution and the theory called “creation science.

 

Similar unnecessary conflicts that distort and diminish the scope of education are still being fought throughout America’s educational system.  And as the Program for International Student Assessment test results show our children’s education suffers. 

 

The goal of education should be to open the student’s mind for thinking and gaining a realistic understanding of the world they will have to live in.  They should not be intimidated or shielded from controversial theories of science or religion because there is conflicting opinion.  As the world becomes smaller students need to be prepared to interface with people of all races, creeds, cultures and religions.

 

Whether they believe the diverse viewpoints being articulated or disbelieve they need to have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the facts so their reactions to life’s circumstances are not based on ignorance or preconceived notions that breed intolerance and bigotry.  If they are to be the critical thinkers of the future then school curricula and teachers should challenge students to become intellectual pragmatists and not merely ivory tower theorists.

 

President Bush has stated, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.  This is a noble and idealistic long range objective but if students are censored from opposing points of view what chance is there for them as adults to successfully negotiate peace throughout the world instead of resorting to dictatorial demands because they lacked a broad world-oriented practical education? 

 

James W. Breedlove

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: www.truthclinic.com

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