Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monkey Business

Not only is Florida changing the rules for hiring teachers, the net effect being driving capable and ambitious people out of the business, they’re bringing back creationism.

As lawmakers wrestle with financial and policy challenges that could affect the quality of education in the state, one influential legislator is also hoping to change the way evolution is taught in Florida public schools.

Science education advocates are alarmed by a bill before the Legislature that they say could force teachers to challenge evolution at the expense of settled science.

Stephen Wise, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has resurrected legislation he authored in 2009 that calls for a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” Wise’s bill failed to pass in 2009.

The critical analysis approach originated at the Discovery Institute, a think tank that supports the teaching of intelligent design, which holds that evolution alone cannot explain life, which is so complex that it must have had a creator.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, led another battle over evolution in 2008, but the Legislature failed to pass her bill that would have given protection to teachers who criticized evolution.

Storms’ bill was filed in response to science standards adopted that year by the State Board of Education, which for the first time used the word “evolution” instead of such terms as “biological change over time.” The standards also required more intense and detailed teaching of the concept.

Wise, R-Jacksonville, thinks his evolution bill may have a better chance this year because there are more conservatives in the Legislature and because he chairs a substantive committee.

“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise said, referring to evolution and what he called “nonevolution.”

“You have critical thinking in school,” Wise added. “Why would you not do both?”

Mr. Wise — yes, that’s his real name — does not get the concept of “critical thinking.” That’s when you offer two theories based on the same factual evidence, not on one being scientifically-based evidence and the other being a faerie tale.

The proponents of “intelligent design” must know that they are on shaky ground. If creationism was real, there would be no need to legislate to have it taught on the same level as proven science; it would be as incontrovertible as gravity.

Or is that “intelligent falling“?

Graphic from Dependable Renegade via SFDB.