This news is over a week old, so please accept my apologies for that. I found it too interesting (and disturbing) to pass up.
According to a survey funded by the National Science Foundation, about one in eight of US high school science teachers presents intelligent design in a positive light. One in eight of our publicly funded science teachers tells students that intelligent design is a viable and scientific explanation of the origin of biological diversity.
In other words, one in eight of US high school science teachers is teaching a falsehood to students.
I suppose this should come as no great surprise. The article also notes that between 12 and 16 percent of high school teachers in the US are creationists, one of six of which come in the young-earth flavor. These numbers line up nicely with the proportion that teach ID.
Regardless of the reason, however, high school teachers cannot be permitted to continue presenting religious doctrine to students as if it were legitimate science. Some steps I can produce from the top of my head for combating this:
- Any high school science students who catch their teacher presenting intelligent design should point out the Dover ruling, which effectively banned intelligent design in public classrooms. If that doesn’t work, they should go to the principal, and if that doesn’t shut down the ID lessons, they should go to the National Center for Science Education, or even the ACLU.
- Science teaching methods courses in universities should emphasize the central importance of evolutionary theory in biology. I’m sure most already do this (though mine didn’t.)
- More science outreach could be instrumental in decreasing the proportion of the public who doubt evolution. For instance, if networks like The Discovery Channel were to show a series of documentaries on evolution, this would put a significant damper on the idea that “evolution is just a theory,” or the idea that there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution accounts for biological diversity. (They could put it in between the shows about retrofitting motorcycles.) This is not something that can be mandated, of course.
Those are just a few ideas from a humble science teacher. In any case, it all comes down to this: it is the teachers who determine what is presented in their classrooms, not the courts. That’s where the change needs to happen.