Monday, January 7, 2013

Outrage du jour

The local school inculcates considerable moralism--as this morning the principal urges students to examine their character and make every effort to live each day with improved purity of heart--followed by an insipidly uplifting Maya Angelou quotation.  I hadn't heard this classic Americana genre in decades, wasn't even aware it still existed, until today.

I saw the announcement in the local paper, the PTO invited all to 'coffee with the principal.'  Perhaps the single worst cup of coffee I have been offered in twenty years.  Lots of boring stuff about changes in state standards.  I'd thought I might observe some evidence of the pressure from 'cultural conservatives.'  If it had a presence, I wanted to view it.

I chatted up a PTO leader on how evolution gets taught in the high school.  She didn't have anything insane to say, her mushiness is politically driven, she feels confident the school has found a decent, 'mature adult' way of dealing with the topic:

Junior high students/families are notified (I paraphrase) 'We're getting into a somewhat touchy area, and we're aware some families in our community have their own values on the subject of evolution.  Going into this chapter, then, we want you to know we respect your right to decide whatever values you choose on this topic.'

The school is teaching students they can believe the truth or they can honorably choose to believe nonsense--do I have that right?  That commendable values might impel one to embrace bullshit on the most important subject imaginable?

Well, that's your belief, she counters--but they have their beliefs too, and you haven't persuaded them any more than they've persuaded you.  You risk appearing genuinely uncivil, when you insist anti-evolutionism be given no quarter in our school.  We teach students that understanding evolution science is only really necessary if the student plans on pursuing a scientific career.

There's a hint of:  Yes, the creationist families believe a load of crap on evolution, but you can't conk them over the head with this too much.  We have to tell them they're welcome here too.

The district should be teaching students multibillion-year evolution is true--and that whether such evolution happened is not a topic of elite scholarly debate, it is taken as fact.

By all means, the school should tell the creationist, you can believe what you want to believe, though within the confines of this building, we teach evidence-based science, the truth.  The reason we don't teach the biblical creation story in science class is because there's no evidence in favor of that.
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