Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Anger. . .building. . .slowly

Reference material: Judge Jones' decision on a case involving a school board's audacity to inform their students that the theory of evolution is something other than a totally proven scientific truth.

Okay, so maybe the schoolboard went too far in recommending its students to a book that talks about Intelligent Design. And maybe the motives of the school board in pursuing the correctness of their case were. . .questionable?

Regardless of all that extralegal mumbo-jumbo, here is the barebones of the case: at issue was a press release from the Dover (PA) Area School District--required to be read to students by teachers of 9th grade biology classes--that asserted the following:

"The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency
on Standards-based assessments."

The board's requirement to have their teachers read the press release above was specifically overruled in the judge's decision that found unconstitutional the implication that Intelligent Design is a publicly-appropriate alternative theory to Darwin's teachings . These are the two statements from the Judge's decision that really beat me up:

1) "To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect"; and

2) "we (the court) will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants (the schoolboard) from . . . requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution"

In other words: we know that the "science" we teach in our science classes is lacking in some form--but the school board CAN NOT make its teachers tell the students that the science is lacking from their science class.

There was much more to this case, not the least of which is that Intelligent Design was once again (although not surprisingly) struck down as a teachable (in public schools, at least)alternative theory to evolution. But what I can't get my mental fingers wrapped around is the lengths to which this court went to ensure that the "theory of evolution" was protected from scrutiny.

To me, the first, second and fourth paragraphs of the DASD press release were not only correct, they contained information vital for the students. How any court can determine that such information can NOT be a part of the curriculum is beyond me.

Judge Jones, thy name is "activist".