Theology of Creation,
Scientific Evidence,
and Education

4. Policies for Origins Education in Public Schools

I.O.U. — Soon, probably by October 2010, this page will have
more content, including more about young-earth creationism.

     This page (Section 4) will be connected to Sections 1, 2, and 3 — which are in ORIGINS EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL and are much more developed and polished, compared with this "under construction" page — by describing the overlaps between Sections 3 (for Methods) and 4 (for Policies), and explaining "what is here and what is there."

     History of Origins Education in American Schools

     Introductory Overviews
     The IDEA Center offers a History of Intelligent Design and the Creation-Evolution Controversy from 1611 through 2001 (16 k) plus optional Recent Events (6 k about the Santorum Resolution).
     And from PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), a comprehensive history of evolution, from 1635 to 2001, in four categories: Rise of Evolution, Evolution Challenged, Battle in the Schools, Reconciliation.  If you want to focus on education, read the introduction &1635 (First Public School) and then fast-forward to 1900 (click the link) and look for topics marked "Battle in the Schools" although other topics — for example, 1905-1915 (The Fundamentals), 1940 (Neo-Darwinism), 1945 (DDT), 1961 (Genesis Flood), 1970-1980 (Creation Science), and 1990 (Intelligent Design), plus all Scopes topics (crusade, trial, myth, wind) — are interesting and are useful for understanding the broader context.  (since 1900, 12 k for education and 31 k total;  and 53 k in 84 topics for all topics since 1635)   A flash version has the same topics but with text slightly condensed.
     Creationism History by Ron Numbers  (33 k in a 12-page series)
     Later, there will be some history of "ASA in origins education" based on Creation-Views and Actions of the American Scientific Affiliation.

     The Scopes Monkey Trial
     This is a fascinating episode in American history, with continuing influence.  For an overview, read the PBS history of evolution by PBS for 1915-1931 and 1955-1957 for context & event, myth & movie (8 k), plus an interview with Edward Larson, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion.  (10 k)
     Misconceptions about the Scopes Trial are common, especially due to a false portrayal in a famous drama, as explained by Gregg Easterbrook in The Scopes Trial vs. 'Inherit the Wind': The Movie's Inaccuracies have perpetuated Stereotypes. (15 k in 4 pages)   /   These pages will help you understand the people and events:  The Truth About the "Real Brady" (William Jennings Bryan) of the Scopes Monkey Trial by Sharon Pearson (7 k).   The Truth About Inherit the Wind by Carol Iannone, compares the trial, play, and film, and shows why “Inherit the Wind” is not historically accurate: “a more historically accurate dramatization of the Scopes Trial than Inherit the Wind might have been far richer and more interesting — and might also have given its audiences a genuine dramatic tragedy to watch. … The real tragedy lies in…”

     Recent and Current History
     Summaries of recent "major happenings" in educational policy
     In the News Archive of NCSE you'll find news organized by date and state, in a Year of Interest or Place of Interest, and “new news” is in their home page.   The American Geological Institute describes Political Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution (8 k + resources).
     From a different perspective, the Discovery Institute has News & Views and State-Specific Resources.
     There are also plenty of blogs, pro and con, and later we'll have links to some of these.

Legal Principles for Origins Education
     This will begin the"recent news" part of the page, by citing the 4 sources in Section 1, plus a few new ones, and transitioning into the recent history that follows:

     Here are some ideas (quoted from the editor's page about Worldview Balance in Education) that might be used, with modifications and editing-cuts, to introduce the difficulty (actually the impossibility) of trying to please everyone with any possible policy:
     Deciding what to do is difficult because... definitions of desirable balance vary widely, and instruction that is satisfactory for some will be unacceptable for others.  In a pluralistic society there will be vigorous debates about an important function of education, the selective transmission of culture, when we are deciding which cultural concepts and values to include, and how these should be taught. ...  No matter what a teacher does it will be impossible to please everyone... [and there is often] an uncomfortable climate of controversy for teachers.
     A confrontational approach, with a debating mentality, is especially common in some areas of the curriculum.  In education about origins [re: evolution, intelligent design, and creationism], for example, the situation is often made more volatile by polarized attitudes, with zero-sum battles fought by combatants who acknowledge only two possibilities (young-earth creation and naturalistic evolution), who ignore all other positions.  This unfortunate approach, encouraged by those with extreme positions, tends to produce mutual hostility and disagreement about everything except that "there is no middle ground so we have to fight it out."

Policies of Organizations (for Science & Education)
     ORGANIZATIONS for scientists & educators have recommended policies -- this section will cite ASA & NSTA (already discussed in 3-Methods) and there will be a more complete listing of links here, for NCSE, NSTA, NABT, AAAS, NAS.
     SCIENCE STANDARDS -- these have been developed by science & science-ed organizations, and education officials at the federal & state levels;  will describe their role for testing & instruction, and therefore their role in policy debates

So far, only two sections (both about Kansas) are relatively complete:

     Kansas — 1999 to 2001
     In August 1999, the Kansas Board of Education reduced the coverage of evolution (plus old-earth geology and old-universe astronomy) in its science standards, and thus in its end-of-year state exams and in most classrooms.  Keith Miller summarizes what happened in The Controversy over Kansas Science Standards (7 k).  After an election that removed some board members, the issue was resolved in February 2001 when The Kansas Board of Education Reinstates Evolution (2 k).  { There will also be ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for all sections, including this one. }

     Ohio — 2000 to 2006
     The temporary anti-evolution policy in Kansas was considered unwise and unsatisfactory by almost everyone, since proponents and opponents of design both wanted students to learn more about evolution, not less.  The prominent advocates of intelligent design, who in Kansas were reacting to the actions of others, began to proactively pursue their own goals for education in Ohio.
     I.O.U. — Eventually there will be policy statements (from pro-ID and anti-ID) plus summaries of what happened, and later there will be "stories" with more detail.

     Dover — 2005
     Similar to Kansas in 1999, in Dover local creationists (not prominent design advocates) were pushing the action.
     Soon, before June 2010, there will be policy statements (from pro-ID and anti-ID) plus summaries of what happened, and "stories" with more detail.  Currently you can read a summary-and-analysis by Ted Davis, a science historian who attended parts of the trial.

     Kansas — 2005 & onward
     Due to their success in Ohio, proponents of design brought their "teach the controversy" approach to Kansas.
     In January 2005, Evolution Debate Enters "Round Two" (11 k).
     In April, pro-evolution scientists boycott the board's hearings (2 k).  The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) explains why it Respectfully Declines Invitation to Controversial Evolution Hearing (4 k).  Charles Haynes, a constitutional scholar, explains why boycotting the hearing seems politically unwise, and he recommends an Open Debate on Intelligent Design (3 k).
     In September, John Staver delivered a Statement from AAAS to the state school board (3 k).  And from the Discovery Institute, FAQ about the Kansas Evolution Debate (3 k for Questions 1-6 which are most relevant, and entire FAQ is 7 k).  /   Advocacy groups inside the state also argued for opposing positions.  Kansas Citizens for Science: Position Paper (3 k) and homepage.  Intelligent Design Network: FAQ (13 k) and homepage.
     In late October, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) denied copyright-use for their National Science Standards: a summary from NSTA (3 k) and the joint statement (7 k).  /   You can also read letters to the board from NSTA (4 k) and NAS (2 pages), a letter of support from AAAS (5 k), and an NAS links-page.
     In early November, groups weigh in before the board votes (4 k), and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) sees the result as Antievolution Standards Adopted in Kansas (4 k).  But it seems the battle is never over, and at least one local school district has rejected the Kansas standards.

     Other Locations and Issues
     I.O.U. — for other more-recent history:  El Tejon in 2006 (as in Dover, action by YECs "pushed events" in a non-ideal context that major ID proponents didn't want) about question of ID in non-science classes (but Discovery Institute didn't want to encourage this), textbook stickers (Alabama in 1990s, Cobb County in 2005), and the University of California rejecting students because of classes they took in a private Christian high school.

     Intelligent Design: A Political Context
     Intelligent Design: The New Creationism Threatens All of Science and Society according to Marshall Berman. (18 k)  /   This paper was written for the American Physical Society in October 2005.  An earlier version (a guest editorial for The American Biology Teacher, Nov-Dec 2003) is Intelligent Design Creationism: A Threat to Society – Not Just Biology. (13 k)
     An earlier and longer version of the same concerns is in Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2003) by Barbara Forrest & Paul Gross.  To get a quick overview of this book and a wide range of responses to it, here is the publisher's description & synopsis (2 k) and reviews — pro, con, and mixed — by Allan Harvey (for the ASA journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith; 4 k), Kendrick Frazier (for Skeptical Inquirer, 1 k), John West & Jonathan Witt (Unraveling The Threads of Darwinist Paranoia, 6 k) and Karl Giberson (editor of Science & Theology News, 11 k + 4k).
     The Wedge Strategy was written by Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture (part of Discovery Institute) and is used by opponents of design to say "we told you it's politically motivated."  A brief response-FAQ from the Idea Center — Isn't intelligent design just a movement trying to push a political agenda? (8 k) — contains excerpts from a 19-page response by the Discovery Institute — The Wedge Document (So what?) & other explanations — which also explains The Truth About Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture (13 k plus links).
     You can read excerpts from Creationism's Trojan Horse, to hear directly from Forrest & Gross, in their Introduction (34 k) and Chapter 1 — The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream (100 k).
     And you can hear from Phillip Johnson, in 1999, describing The Wedge: Breaking the Modernist Monopoly on Science (40 k).

     Of course, organizations opposing design also have political goals and strategies.  For example, you can read about the National Center for Science Education from the IDEA Center and themselves (about NCSE plus links to "more about" & activities,...).

P.S. (this is an idea that will be developed more fully later) — Unfortunately, some enthusiastic advocates of each view (yes, it happens with every view because it's probably caused more by personality than ideology) oversimplify complex issues in an effort to "win points," thus converting rational discussion into a culture war, escalating the level of animosity, and producing a perception of conflict between science and religion.   One example is Expelled (the movie) and the subsequent actions of its critics and defenders;  a wide sample of responses is currently (since May 2008) on the homepage of ASA.

an IOU for later development/polishing:  What is more religious, natural evolution or divine miracles?  The descriptive table below may be useful to stimulate thinking, because scanning vertically (to see that evolution is compatible with both theism and atheism, while miracles are OK with only theism) leads to "divine miracles being more religious", but scanning horizontally (to see that theism is compatible with either evolution or miracles, while atheism requires evolution) leades to "evolution" being more religious.  Overall, I think the first conclusion is more justifiable, but the second also is justifiable (in some ways but not others) and it helps lend balance to thinking about issues and motivations.

   All-Natural Evolution    Divine Design-Miracles
 theism  YES (theistic evolution)    YES (oeC-m, oeC-i, yeC-i)  
 atheism    YES (atheistic evolution)    no? (design-action by ETs?) 

     This section will soon contain more information and resources, for a wide range of views.
       Until then, there is only this brief description of recent policy decisions in the states of Kansas and Ohio:
       The temporary Kansas policy (in 1999-2000) was not restrictive, since it let local districts and teachers do whatever they wanted.  But some aspects of evolution weren't being tested in the state exams, so the typical result was a decrease in what students learned about evolution.  In early 2001, the state returned to a policy similar to what it had in early 1999, but currently (in 2005) there are debates about another change.
       By contrast, in Ohio the policy (adopted December 2002) should increase what students learn about evolution, because it encourages a careful examination of evidence for and against various aspects of evolution.  And it allows (but doesn't require) explanations of intelligent design; this decision can be made by local districts and teachers.  { details about the Ohio policy


In this page you'll find links to resource-pages expressing a wide range of views, which don't necessarily represent the views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Therefore, linking to a page does not imply an endorsement by ASA.  We encourage you to use your own critical thinking to evaluate everything you read. 

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