Posted by: Shaun | February 19, 2008

Science? In a science class?

If all goes well today, Florida’s state Board of Education will strike a blow for, well, education by inserting the “biological process which shall not be named” into the state’s science curriculum guidelines. Of course, I refer to evolution, the educational lightning rod that has the power to rally fundamentalists everywhere in the cause of turning the clock back to the 18th century. As it stands, the science curriculum standards (which haven’t been updated since 1996) require students to understand only the concept of “biological changes over time,” while the new guidelines would include the “e-word” by name.

Though it looks like evolution is likely to make into the new standards, the religious opposition has changed tack to pushing either the “theoretical” nature of evolution or mandating equal time for “alternatives” like creationism or that wonder of twenty-first century branding, intelligent design (read: creationism, with big words and fancy PowerPoint presentations). In fact, the Miami Herald notes that Fred Cutting, who helped put the new standards together, made a failed attempt to get intelligent design into the standards as well; even going so far as to contact noted ID advocacy group, the Discovery Institute for help. (For some insight into the what the group really wants, you might want to check out their leaked paper on the “Wedge Project.”)

I have to say, as an alumnus of Florida’s public school system as well as (briefly) a faculty member, I’ve seen first hand the damage done by the benighted, test-focused educational policy sold to the public by Jeb Bush & Co. in recent years. While I was lucky enough to attend a school with talented, free-thinking faculty who ventured to speak the name of the devil in class, not everyone is so fortunate as I. As such, I hold a lot of hope that this first, small step toward a rational education policy will be taken today and will herald further changes to come. And maybe, just maybe, if young Floridians do start to learn more about evolution in class and don’t then become atheistic monsters parroting the ideas of Stalin and Mao, people will begin to realize that there is some room for science and faith to coexist…but maybe that’s hoping for a little too much.

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