You would think Intelligent Design/Creationism controversies would be limited to Bible Belt states like Kansas or Alabama.
At Jefferson High School near Salem, Oregon, the science curriculum is pretty standard — they tend to teach real science.
Several months ago, however, a local pastor attended a school board meeting and challenged what was being taught in Geology classes. He didn’t like the scientific notion of an Earth that is billions of years old. He proposed that the school invite a speaker to present “the other view” — that is, the made-up, Sarah-Palin-endorsed theory that the Earth is only thousands of years old despite all the evidence to the contrary.
One Jefferson science teacher attending the meeting, Karen Sinex, said “No” to the religious beliefs being taught in her classroom. Why teach someone’s personal mythology in the classroom and waste the students’ time, right?
On August 11th, the pastor returned to the school board. He further challenged materials being used in the classroom and once again proposed to have an Intelligent Design proponent speak in the classroom.
What was the response this time?
Rather than clearly support state law at the board meeting, the superintendent and two of the five board members announced that they believed in intelligent design! The superintendent even went on to say to Ms. Sinex “Who knows, you may end up having to teach it in your class.”
Bruce Adams, the president of the chapter, continues:
I don’t know what they’ll “recommend.” I want to believe they’ll stand up for their own state’s (pro-evolution) science standards.
When we heard about this, we called the Superintendent and the school board chair. We left [messages] for each of them but neither of them returned our call. Not long after that, we received an email from Ms. Sinex, saying:
Bruce, As you predicted, my superintendent approached me the other day. He said he had received a phone call from you, and asked your affiliation… He said that he intends to sit down with me… to discuss what they will be recommending in this case.
But if this situation can happen in Oregon, it can happen just about anywhere.
Members of the AU chapter will accompany Sinex to the next school board meeting to show their support.
While it seems for now that rational people constitute the majority of the school board, it’s only a one-member swing that way. That could quickly change.
If you don’t want it to happen in your neck of the woods, the most important thing you can do is to keep abreast of what’s going on in your own community and make sure no one sneaks their personal (erroneous) beliefs into public classrooms. If they try, alert groups like Americans United, Freedom From Religion Foundation, or the ACLU.
The teacher, Karen Sinex, is going to be speaking about the situation and answering questions at the next meeting of the AU chapter.
(Thanks to Leslie for the link!)