Monday, August 15, 2005

Science Teachers Speak Up

A couple of weeks ago, the President made some off-the-cuff comments suggesting that he believed schools should teach "Intelligent Design" alongside evolution. He thought it was good to expose students to different schools of thought.

We here at are primarily concerned with defending our school district from ambush by radicals who believe in teaching ... nothing useful ... in sex education classes. They're against safe sex, they're against teaching about sexual variation, and we think it's time to start teaching the facts in the public schools so our kids can make wise decisions.

But sex-ed isn't the only kind of curriculum that's under attack. It hasn't happened in our county, but in other places the Biology curriculum is also being undermined by religious groups who want to teach creationism, un-deified as "Intelligent Design," in classrooms. It's not a scientific theory, just a kind of wishful thinking, a way that people who believe a certain way can cling to their faith in spite of the scientific evidence.

So we are heartened to see this statement by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), responding to the President's comments. Their statement is reproduced here in full:
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the world's largest organization of science educators, is stunned and disappointed that President Bush is endorsing the teaching of intelligent design - effectively opening the door for nonscientific ideas to be taught in the nation's K-12 science classrooms.

"We stand with the nation's leading scientific organizations and scientists, including Dr. John Marburger, the president's top science advisor, in stating that intelligent design is not science. Intelligent design has no place in the science classroom," said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA Executive Director.

On Monday, Knight Ridder news service reported that the President favors the teaching of intelligent design "so people can understand what the debate is about."

"It is simply not fair to present pseudoscience to students in the science classroom," said NSTA President Mike Padilla. "Nonscientific viewpoints have little value in increasing students' knowledge of the natural world."

NSTA strongly supports the premise that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be included in the K-12 education frameworks and curricula. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many other scientific and educational organizations. NSTA Disappointed About Intelligent Design Comments Made by President Bush

I want to point out that this is not a political comment. The President certainly has a right to hold an opinion on this matter, same as anybody else. It's just that sometimes he is announcing a shift in how the government will do things, sometimes he's just talking as a private person. I think he was doing the latter in this case, and we need to be careful not to treat his words as government policy.


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