Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Night the Lights Went On in Georgia 

Courtesy of our eminent colleague Rorschach at No Capital: how many times will this battle have to be won before it's actually, well, won?
A federal judge Thursday ordered a suburban Atlanta school system to remove stickers from its high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying the disclaimers are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion . . . .

The stickers were put inside the books’ front covers by public school officials in Cobb County in 2002. They read: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered” . . . .

“Science and religion are related and they’re not mutually exclusive,” school district attorney Linwood Gunn said. “This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science.”

But the judge disagreed: “While evolution is subject to criticism, particularly with respect to the mechanism by which it occurred, the sticker misleads students regarding the significance and value of evolution in the scientific community.”
The sticker also misleads students as to the meaning of the word "theory." Meanwhile, in Dover, PA, the school district that has mandated the teaching of "Intelligent Design" (i.e., creationism in a funny beard and mustache), science teachers are refusing to play along:
A school district that required science teachers to read a statement about alternatives to the theory of evolution decided Friday that teachers can choose not to read it, but their classes will still hear it.

Under the Dover Area School District’s temporary exemption, administrators will read the statement when science teachers object to doing so. Students can be excused from having to listen if their parents object, according to a letter posted on the school district’s Web site . . . .

Tom Scott, an attorney representing the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the teachers’ union was satisfied with the decision. He said teachers had objected because intelligent design “is not science.”

“Unfortunately, the school board and the superintendent can put anything they want to in front of the students, but we are not going to be their messenger,” Scott said.

“The Dover faculty have no right to opt out of a legal directive,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is defending the school district. “Having said that, because there is pending litigation ... we are going to accommodate their request.”
It has always been our position that creationism should be taught in schools. Treat the Bible as science and see how it stands up. If the teacher is reasonably competent, the crudely imagined origin myths of Genesis -- "approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered" -- should require less than a single period to debunk utterly.

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