Saturday, January 07, 2006

Phoenix Union High School District: Evolution too controversial to survey science teachers about

The latest issue of Reports of the National Center for Science Education includes an article ("The Taboo Standard") by Marni Landry of Paradise Valley High School, who reports that she proposed a study to survey life science teachers in the Phoenix Union High School District on the subject of evolution. The survey, intended to support her M.A. thesis work at the University of Phoenix, asked the recipients whether they agreed or disagreed slightly or completely with the following statements:
I have helped to write the district or state science standards.

I would like to contribute in the writing of the district or state science standards.

I know specifically what the district standards are concerning the theory of evolution.

I have avoided details about the origin of life in order to avoid conflict in my classroom.

The theory of evolution goes against my religious beliefs.

If I were to get into a confrontation with a student or parent concerning the theory of evolution, I feel that [the] administration would support my actions.

I feel that creationism (creation science) should be taught parallel to evolution in the classroom.

I am concerned over the fact that many states have removed evolution from their science standards.

Students must understand the theory of evolution in order to understand the study of biology.

I have experienced conflict with a student, parent, or administrator concerning my teaching of evolution.
This survey and edited versions were rejected by school district administrators as "too controversial." The irony of being unable to conduct a survey of science teachers about a subject that they are required by state science standards to teach is explicitly noted.

The author was able to complete a pilot study, and her article reports the percentages for the above statements (16.5% say that evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs and that creationism should be taught).

The same issue of Reports has stories from Texas and Arkansas about high school teachers being unable to teach about evolution or (in Arkansas) even mention the ages of rocks in millions of years.

This, to me, is far more frightening than attempts to force the teaching of intelligent design or creation science--that teaching about evolution has already been removed from or watered down in many of the classrooms of the United States. It's no wonder that the average American is completely ignorant on the subject.


Don Daniels said...

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Einzige said...

I think we just got spammed!

Jim Lippard said...

I thought so too until I looked at his blog. He's apparently a young-earth creationist (or at least has been viewing material from the Institute for Creation Research, such as Steve Austin's work on Mt. St. Helens). Perhaps he is spamming his blog to everybody who has comments on evolution.

I posted this comment (awaiting approval) on his blog (on this post:

It looks like your list has been assembled through the study of young-earth creationist material. I hope that your study will be more balanced.

For example, the conjunction of items 9 and 10 suggests that you believe 9 is false and 10 is true, but the reverse is the case. See Glenn Morton's paper on the geologic column in North Dakota:

Morton is a Christian and former young-earth creationist (published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly) who almost lost his faith over the creationism/evolution issue because his daily work in petroleum geology showed him that young-earth creationism was false. He found a way to reconcile his faith and the evidence for evolution and an old earth.

Items 13 and 15 wrongly suggest that the canyons around Mt. St. Helens are comparable to the Grand Canyon when in fact they are very different types of formations.

I could go on and on through your list, but I think you should do so first.

I recommend that you examine Mark Isaak's Counter-Creationism Handbook, a version of which may be found online here:

Jim Lippard said...

Maybe it was spam--despite his blog's claim that "Anything decent and focused will be published," he hasn't published my comment (or any others).

Einzige said...

What an ass!

I have continued to troll over at The Dying In Christ Blog and have, surprisingly, found it to be a rewarding--or at least entertaining--experience.

There have been some lively discussions, and, unlike Tom Wanchick, Maureen at least sometimes answers comments made by posters. (She's still certifiable, though)

mrslandry said...

Thank you to the reference to my article! In the Paradise Valley Unified School District I currently am not running in to any difficulties teaching natural selection and evolution.
Marni Landry