Education

Signs of Intelligence, Bible Studies, and Allegedly Unsafe Sex

By Rich Shea — May 06, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The fight over teaching (or not teaching) evolution continues to evolve, this time in Kansas, where the state board of ed is just beginning hearings on intelligent design, a theory that challenges Darwinism by purporting that a “creator” is in charge of shaping the world. Although science organizations—taking to heart one paleontologist’s comment that ID is “nothing more than creationism in a cheap tuxedo”—are boycotting the hearings, many are worried about the inroads ID’s proponents have made nationwide. “It’s a political battle,” says Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science. “Education and evolution are hot-button items. Some scientists are starting to understand that this is a serious threat.”

A serious source of anxiety is more like it. Science teachers are now up against students armed with anti-Darwin material—DVDs, books, and lists of questions “to ask your biology teacher”—supplied by ID proponents like the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. According to the National Science Teachers Association, 31 percent of the educators they recently surveyed feel compelled to include “creationism, intelligent design, or other nonscientific alternatives to evolution” in class lessons. The ID folks argue that what they’re offering is science and should therefore be taught alongside evolution. But scientists say that evolution, unlike intelligent design, is supported by solid evidence. The political savvy of ID proponents reminded one Illinois teacher of the Salem witch trials, when a lack of evidence did nothing to curb charges of witchcraft. “When there’s no empirical evidence,” she says, “some very serious things can happen.”

Evidence is not an issue when it comes to reading the Old Testament and New Testament, and maybe that’s why at least some English teachers believe the Bible should be included in literature courses. In tandem with a Gallup survey showing a lack of biblical knowledge among students, the Virginia-based Bible Literacy Project questioned 41 teachers in private and public schools in 10 states, finding that almost all feel that studying the Bible gives kids an educational advantage. It’s “one of the basic pieces of literature that in Western civilization has influenced laws, morals, politics, and other literature,” one teacher explains. But fears of being mistaken for teaching religion are still prevalent: Gallup found that while 63 percent of U.S. private schools offer Bible study, just 26 percent of public schools do.

Religion isn’t the only subject that makes educators nervous; sex does, too—and rightly so. Two groups filed a federal lawsuit this week in an effort to block a sex ed program in Maryland that would have 8th graders discussing homosexuality and 10th graders learning how to use a condom. One detail that has Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays riled is a video in which a woman uses a cucumber to show how to apply a condom. But the video also includes a discussion on abstinence, and district officials argue that the entire curriculum (slated for wide release next year) is not mandatory; parents must sign permission slips for the lessons in question. The groups argue that students whose parents don’t sign are effectively discriminated against and that the program itself discriminates against former gays, who should be allowed to share their views on homosexuality. CRC Vice President John Garza claims the school board refused to hear “valid concerns”; hence the suit.

Speaking of cucumbers, there’s at least one high school student keeping a close eye on what’s being dished out at lunch time in Pennsylvania. Senior Rick Seltzer is his school newspaper’s cafeteria critic, and his column, “Rick’s Café Critique,” in the monthly Periscope, rates everything from chicken patties to egg sandwiches with up to five “sporks” (a combination spoon and fork). The 18-year-old, who’s been critiquing since his junior year at Carlisle High School, doesn’t take himself seriously; he says his humorous column is “really something to lighten your day.” But it’s also uncommon, according to Marc Wood, a spokesman for the National Scholastic Press Association, adding, “As far as I know, food reviews are pretty rare in the high school press.”

Sources for all articles are available through links. Teacher Magazine does not take credit or responsibility for reporting in linked stories. Access to some may require registration or fee.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
When SEL Curriculum Is Not Enough: Integrating Social-Emotional Behavior Supports in MTSS
Help ensure the success of your SEL program with guidance for building capacity to support implementation at every tier of your MTSS.
Content provided by Illuminate Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
Professional Wellness Strategies to Enhance Student Learning and Live Your Best Life
Reduce educator burnout with research-affirmed daily routines and strategies that enhance achievement of educators and students alike. 
Content provided by Solution Tree
English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 15, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 8, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 1, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 11, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read