The article I looked at is from the New Times and examines another way creationism is encroaching into public school classrooms. The New York Times reported that multiple people on the panel to decide the high school biology textbooks in Texas believe in creationism. The article points out that members of the Texas state government are creationists as well including people on the State Board of Education and Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who said “in Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right,” (the exact quote is from PolitiFact, the NYT only referenced the quote).
Creationism in public high schools is a far more serious problem than many people realize and extends far beyond Texas and even the south. Randy Moore, a professor at the University of Minnesota did at study from 2000-2004 of over 2,000 college freshmen that asked them about their high school biology class. The study found that 5% of students’ biology class discussed creationism without ever discussing evolution and 23% of students said their biology class discussed both evolution and creationism.
Minnesota is not a place where you would think creationism in schools would be a major problem. I think it would be interesting to see studies done nationwide and in southern states especially where numbers would most likely be higher.
For me, creationism in the classroom is something I can relate to. Last year, when I was a senior in high school, a freshmen biology teacher at my public high school showed her class an offensive cartoon from the famous creationist Ken Ham. The cartoon related evolution to satan, euthanasia, homosexuality, pornography, divorce, racism and abortion. I was a news editor on the school newspaper and I reported on the story with another editor:
Many of the students said that the teacher would answer their biology questions by saying that ‘that’s the way god made it’. This instance of creationism in the classroom brings up the issue of when teachers ‘freelance’. Freelancing is when the school, school district and state never tells teachers to teach creationism but they teacher does it anyway.
Examples like the textbooks in Texas give creationists another way to compete with evolution in the classroom in addition to ‘freelance’ teachers. In Randy Moore’s study he said that teachers teach creationism for a number of reasons such as ignorance of the law, religious beliefs and pressure to teach creationism/avoid evolution. Not only is it illegal when teachers include creationism in their biology classes, it is cheating students out of learning evolution. Do you think creationism could be taught in any sort of context (i.e. a religion class) in a public school? What do you think could be done to reduce the number of biology teachers ‘freelancing’?