Evolution in schools

Megan megan at ucla.edu
Mon Aug 26 20:33:31 EST 1996

At 01:23 PM 8/26/96 -0700, you wrote:
>After a couple of weeks of 1.) Being out of town and 2.) catching up from 
>being out of town, I discovered that the local school board here 
>(Albuquerque, NM) has changed the rules so that evolution is no longer a 
>required topic in the public school curriculum. The guidelines now state 
>that there be some coverage of the origins of life based on scientific 
>evidence. This leaves the door open, of course, for the teaching of 
>"Creation Science" to fulfill this requirement.
>I am wondering, has this happened else where and I have just had my head 
>in the sand? What has been the reaction?
>The thing that I have learned from this is that I should vote in school 
>board elections regardless of the fact that do not have, nor do I plan to 
>have, kids. Evidently what happened here is that the religious right won 
>enough seats on the  board to pass this.
>Any comments? Suggestions?
The religious right has been attempting to get their views across by working
at a local level, and working up.  Over 15 years ago, I remember watching
Pat Robertson (my mother is a fundie - total Robertson fan) proclaiming that
the schools were going to be the target of the Christian Revolution, and
that it was the duty of believers to get out and run for school board
elections.  They realized that many people do not vote in school board
elections and were successful in "getting out the vote" drives - thus, many
school boards across the nation have had this sort of thing happen, and it
is done before anyone in the community realizes what has happened.

This is not a new thing, it is a frightening and disturbing trend.  So far,
they have been effective, and have also managed to scare publishers out of
giving evolution the thorough treatment it deserves in Biology texts, and in
some cases have gotten publishers to disregard evolution altogether.  I
think a recent Science had an article about this - I'll have to check which
one though.

A story that comes to mind is that of a student I was in college with.  We
were in Vertebrate Anatomy, and he refused to acknowledge that evolution was
the explanation for the different fossils seen, and claimed that the fossils
were planted by scientists and christian haters, and that it was a big plot
to get evolution taught in schools instead of creation.  Fossils were just
another example of persecution of Christians.  Really quite paranoid and
scary, and unfortunately, not as uncommon as one might think.

I guess this is just one more example of why it is so important for people
to be involved in their community and active.  It is so easy to be
blindsided by these people and then it is often too late and may take years
to undo the damage they have done.  

I hope someone will present some suggestions of what to do now that the
decision has been made in your school district - maybe some scientists need
to organize and start teaching people what evolution is, and what it isnt...
Finding some science friendly people in the area to run for school board
against these people is not a bad idea either, but it is a huge commitment,
and may be difficult to find someone.  

good luck!!!

megan at ucla.edu

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