I've started a little posting back and forth with someone who also reads editorials in Texas newspapers. His stand is interesting . .here, read it for yourself.
Robbie: " . . . The solution is simply to disband the chokehold the TEA [Texas Education Agency] and the US Department of Education has over the curriculum presented in the classroom by allowing parents the right to send their children to the school of their choosing and having individual school boards and PTA's set the agenda and curriculum for their individual school districts. Lets make the education of our young minds an individual community effort instead of the federal and state political wild card that it has become." another comment from Robbie: "While I am unaware of anyone suggesting the earth is flat, I do find it contrary to our country's design to allow a federal agency to dictate the curriculum of the classroom. School boards and PTA's should have the authority to design a curriculum based upon the needs of their students in relation to their communities and the standards that particular community upholds. Parents should be given the choice of sending their children to a school that upholds the particular standards of that family. It is quite arrogant of some people to take it upon themselves, in adherance with their particular beliefs, to push an education agenda upon other people's children. This is exactly what both sides of this arguement are doing, and the US Dept. of Education and the TEA have become politcal wild cards for each agenda. School choice and the design of their own curriculums will resolve this particular conflict and take the politics out of our children's education."My response
Robbie, sSo it would be OK with you if a child attends one school and learns Astronomy and then moves to another and they teach Astrology? Because that is what you are saying. Let's create a PhD in Numerology for people to take. Feng Shui replaces Architecture, Alchemy for Chemistry.So his point of view is to allow local school boards and PTA associations to determine what we teach our children. To a point I agree. Local boards and PTA's should have input. There are things that might be endemic to a location that the school system could help. If an area has a lot of manufacturing, then I think courses in those areas would make a great deal of sense. Detroit probably has many automotive courses, perfect sense!
I disagree! There has to be some leveling set of standards, or else nothing we teach will actually prepare our students for the future. Science should be taught in science class, and what determines science? Science has a huge community of people working in scientific fields. They have developed, over time, a methodology for what is science and what is not. Is it unanimous, no, but what developed by a committee ever is? But the vast majority of members of that community agree that Creationism/Intelligent Design does not belong in Science class. So rather than listen to the tens of thousands of scientists, you want to put it to a community vote to decide what is science? Sure, and when your kids go to school in another state they have to play catch up to learn things other states teach in elementary school?
Yes, the Discovery Institute can wave a letter signed by 700 Doctoral 'scientists' who say they dissent from Darwin. Only 700? Plus if you look at the list you will find only 128 biologists, and none of them are working in any field of evolutionary studies. Plus if you look deeper you will find the signers are Evangelical Christians, so their dissent has nothing to do with Science, but religious belief.
Ask the National Academies of Science what they think and what their members (over 2,100 members and over 200 Nobel Prizes between them) clearly support. They support science and when they say Biology, they include Evolution! Look up the requirements for membership, this isn't something you just call up and send in a check to join! These members are recognized for their contributions in Science!
So if Texas wants to teach science, they need to remove things like Creationism/Intelligent Design from curriculum consideration. Put them in a Philosophy class, or Sociology. You could use the Discovery Institutes's marketing campaign in a marketing class. But it is not Science and no PTA vote should have the power to make it so.
But there has to be a line to the power of the school board and PTA when you are advocating allowing them to re-define a discipline. Should they have to power to stretch the definition of science to include Metaphysics? How about let's redefine the value of Pi because the idea of a irrational number is just too hard for our students? Wasn't that tried somewhere? I forget. But let's redefine Mathematics to what suits us. Pythagoras, who was he? How about English? Remember the outcry when Oakland CA tried to institute teaching Ebonics?
I hope I have made my point. Input from local organizations are critical to the education of our young, but standards addressing things like the definition of science are equally as important. A PTA vote should not have the power to change what is science for one locality! HC SVNT DRACONES (Here be Dragons!)