I was interviewed about Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom for the June edition of the journal Evolution: Education & Outreach. You can download a free PDF of the relevant pages here or click on the “view article” link there to read it on their website.
From the article:
A highlight of Going Ape is the detailed description of the Hillsborough County School Board’s 1980 adoption of a policy requiring equal time for “scientific creationism.” Can you say a bit about its rise and fall?
It started with a determined retired chaplain who regularly toured school board meetings in a few neighboring counties. For years, he tried to get the boards to counterbalance evolution with some form of creationism. Finally, he struck a chord with a majority bloc of Hillsborough County board members. Once they voted to teach scientific creationism alongside evolution, the school district sank into chaos. I’m still amazed how much power duly elected yet misinformed school board members can have. The entire science department fought against the policy, but the board members were so sure of themselves that the protests never stood a chance. The committee assembled to create a curriculum was locked in constant conflict as its members fought over every single thing, big or small. There was even a fight over whether Charles Darwin should be called a scientist. Their final product was such a convoluted mess that the director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in Boulder, Colorado, wrote a letter to the Hillsborough schools science supervisor to express his exasperation. He said it “comes across as completely incomprehensible.” But the board was happy and all set to move the new curriculum into the classroom. That’s when the federal court decision in McLean v. Arkansas, which ruled that mandated balanced treatment for creation science was unconstitutional, derailed Hillsborough’s implementation. The school board reluctantly tabled the curriculum and it was never mentioned again. It’s sad that so much time and energy was wasted on a project that should never have started in the first place.