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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kansas School Board OKs Evolution Language

In a related developments, the Kansas School Board also revised history standards to allow The Passion in as the sole World History text. Senior English will be a year-long study of the great fictional works of Scooter Libby, Lynn Cheney, and William Bennett's seminal work on the African-American experience. And in Trigonometry, students must be taught that ALL triangles possess RIGHT angles, and screw those European Greeks: we are changing "pi" to "pie" and it will equal three. Just three, goddammit.

One grieves for the intelligent people of Kansas, like my good friend $sh, that have to regularly put up with this shit that passes for leadership on the Kansas School Board.

Public education ought to be the backbone of our democracy, yet these ignorant religious jackasses that can't tell the difference between story and science have managed to once again steer their ship towards the rocks. I feel for those parents in Kansas who want to participate in the noble endeavour of public schools and avoid the elitest and/or sectarian realms of private schools. What safe passage exists between this Scylla and Charybdis?

Kansas University and Kansas State ought to gear up their remedial Biology courses before the next wave of uneducated grads hit their shores. In fact, this might be a way to fight back. All institutions of higher learning across the land (Bob Jones University excepted) should mandate that any applicant with a high school degree from the Kansas Public School system must take and additional three credit course in Biology 001--better known as "Welcome to the Civilized World You Poor Misguided Schmuck"--and be charged double the going rate per credit hour for having to clean up your educational mess of a mind. Next time, ask your parents to elect a board with a brain.


At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, intelligent design and creationism weren't necessarily taught, but they were mentioned and never exactly discredited. My Biology teacher approached it as, "This is what I am required by law to teach you. Some others believe the following. You can believe what you want, but this is what's on the test."

I thought that was a perfectly mature way to cover all the bases. As someone who was taught as a child that creationism was the one and only explanation, my siblings and I eventually just each found our own spin on it. I like to subscribe to what I have dubbed the "Inherit the Wind" theory, and my sister and brother just ran as far away from Jesus as possible.

Anyway, the point of this ramble is that even though it's against the law (at least in NE) to teach intelligent design and creationism, there's no harm in mentioning them.

-The Spicka

At 3:15 PM, Blogger $sh said...

Sorry I haven't chimed in sooner, been out of town for work. As a Kansan (yes, I've accepted my fate), I assure you that the Board's actions are causing a stir. The good news is that it is rousing people to action.

4 conservative Board members are up for re-election in 2006 (there are 6 conservatives on the 10-person board). Already, 3 of the 4 are facing formal, announced opposition in their primaries. The candidate in my district (who is a far-right conservative) is facing a moderate Republican in the primary, a highly-qualified person who is the president of Kansans for Science Education. If he survives that challenge, there is already a Democrat lined up for the general election. This issue is galvanizing support from the left and center of the political spectrum (similar to what seems to be happening at the national level due to W's administration).

Now to address the point above, there IS harm in mentioning ID and creationism in science class. What harm? They are not science. If you want to believe in ID or creationism, your call. If the teacher wants to do so, personal choice. But why is it ok to say, in class, "some others believe the following," when what follows is nothing more than a Biblical account? Is that the ONLY valid alternative concept? Who gets to choose which alternative concepts are mentioned? What about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What about Brahma, the creator? What about the fact that the whole universe is a creation of my own imagination? Do these ideas belong in science class, or in philosophy/comparative religions?

That is how the left and center are framing this issue, and I think it will work. No longer is it "get God out of my classroom," it's get God out of science class. And even the conservatives are starting to talk that way (Rick Santorum, for one).

Of course, I am talking about public schools. Parochial schools...not my money. That is, unless vouchers are approved in Kansas. Did I mention that they are trying to get vouchers approved in Kansas now?

That Board will be long gone, before the new standards are even in place. At least, I sure hope so....

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Not Scott said...

$sh--Couldn't have said it better myself.

Spicka--what most of us are worried about is the foot in the door that intelligent design represents. Once you've corrupted the standards of how science works, you've lost the ability for the closest thing we have to a universal understanding of how parts of the world work.

As a prof steeped in pomo theory, I acknowledge the critique of Enlightenment, and recognize that there are issues with how science goes about defining reality. I've staked a good portion of my scholarship on just this issue. However, there is a correct way to critique the rhetoric of science, and there is an ignorant way to do it. The flat-earthers are not proposing any sort of sophisticated critique of science and its world view. Instead, they take the very unremarkable notion that a realm of scientific study is not completely understood (show me one that is) and insert a mythology as an explanation.

This is not a war of ideas, but a war between people who know how to think and people who can only think within a very narrowly defined range of precepts. I cannot think of a better example of narrow-mindedness than claiming a place for creationism alongside evolution.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger $sh said...

Thought you'd enjoy this follow up to this story, reported in the Lawrence, KS newspaper (home of Kansas University):

“The KU faculty has had enough,” said Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU’s religious studies department. He said he planned to teach “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies” next semester.

*Even better than remedial biology!

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Not Scott said...

Yee Haw!

Bring on the cavalry.


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