Archive for December 17th, 2007

Et tu, Pinellas County School Board?

Monday, December 17th, 2007

The list of public school education decision makers who think evolution in the science classroom needs to be muddled with non-scientific ideas is growing. The St. Petersburg Times education blog, The Gradebook, reports that four, count ’em, four members of the Pinellas County school board think evolution needs to be balanced with “other theories.”

A majority of Pinellas County School Board members – including the immediate past president of the National School Boards Association – think that if Florida children are taught about evolution, they should learn other theories on the origin of life as well.

Board members Jane Gallucci, Carol Cook, Peggy O’Shea and Nancy Bostock (shown above, left to right) stopped short of saying that faith-based theories should be included in the state’s proposed new science standards, which the state Board of Education likely will vote on in February.

But all four said such theories should be taught in public school classrooms.

And the winner of the “I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I’ll state my opinion as if I do” award is:

O’Shea suggested that parents who object to evolution being taught to their children might be able to opt them out of that day’s lesson. “I’d probably ideally like to keep it all out of the classroom,” she said. “If it’s going to create this much controversy, how important is it?”

The very foundation of biology? The theory that a proper understanding of life sciences is based on? Naaaaaah … not important at all. While we’re at it, how about we just not bother to teach about punctuation in writing classes. All that mess about commas is just too controversal, so why teach it?

Attention all school board members: If you don’t tell your dentist about other ideas you heard concerning dental care, then I assume you are trusting that professional to do the job he or she is trained and experienced to do. If you don’t tell your auto mechanic that you think that one oily thingy should go here instead of there, then I assume you are trusting him or her to do the job he or she is trained and experienced to do. If, however, you are the kind of person who runs around pretending to be an expert at everything, well, I guess there is not much I can do about you.

However, if you recognize an expert when you see one, and you tend to trust that expert’s judgment over your own when you don’t have a similar expertise, then maybe you can be reached.

The new state science standards were written by experts. They chose to make evolution a big part of the standards for a reason. Likewise, they chose to exclude intelligent design and other nonsense precisely because they know it’s nonsense.

Have a question? Feel free to find and ask an expert. There are plenty of those experts right there in your own schools. Gather information, weigh the importance of the information based on the expertise of your sources, and then speak your mind based on good research rather than just how you feel. As a school board member, that’s your job! Find experts. Listen to experts. Use reasoning skills to arrive at a well-supported conclusion.

This is not about what the majority of the public feel is right. Toss out the popularity contest. Our school children need you to do your jobs!