Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ACSI v. Stearns finale

I just realized, as I read this release, that I haven't commented on this issue before. I feel remiss in my self-assigned duties and responsibilities as a blogger in not having done so. So today I briefly pick up a baton, even though the race appears over. But you know me, I can't resist making glue.

The NCSE has announced

"Creationist lawsuit flops: UC's admission standards upheld. The Supreme Court declined to review Association of Christian Schools International et al. v. Roman Stearns, affirming the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling that the University of California did not violate the constitutional rights of applicants from Christian high schools whose coursework was deemed inadequate preparation for college." (italics added)

For those of you unfamiliar the case, it boiled down to a public universities in California upholding their academic standards and refusing to accept pseudo-science as an acceptable alternative to science in applying for admission and granting credit. More specifically the Association of Christian Schools International was suing because the California University Admission system wouldn't allow high school biology courses that use creationist textbooks as credit for college preparatory biology courses. A federal court and the 9th Circuit Court agreed on appeal that the texts were "inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." The plaintiffs star witness, a familiar name -- Michael Behe, didn't seem to be able to sway anyone. There's a shock. So Michael is now 0 for 2?

This one went all the way up to the Supreme Court and they refused to hear it. In legalese-speak that means there is no issue and the lower court was correct. Yea!

I am sure many colleges have been facing this issue. I know it was also a complaint in Mt Vernon, Ohio, from high school biology teachers who found themselves having to re-teach basic biology to students of John Freshman, a teacher currently suing for being fired for doing several things, including teaching Creationism/ID, causing bodily harm burning crosses into students arms, and also lying to investigators. The latest chapter in that saga might actually be coming to a close. You can follow it, and read the entire history, over on Panda's Thumb.

Simply put, if Creationist schools want to be on par with public schools, they have to at least teach the minimum standards in all curriculum areas. Why is this so hard to understand? If they refuse, it's not a violation of civil or constitutional rights, it's not about free speech or freedom of religion, and it's certainly not some sort of 'viewpoint discrimination'. It's about the science!

Imagine what would have happened if the case was overturned? Suddenly any piece of pseudo-science junk because the legal equivalent of the appropriate college textbook? How insane would that be. I can see it now, "What do you mean I am unqualified, I read "The Psychic Handbook" and I am as qualified as anyone who took a Psychology class!"

Nice to know that the Supreme Court didn't bother wasting its time. I only wish the Creationist schools had been trying to teach Intelligent Design. That might have been a stake through the heart of the Discovery Institute at the same time harpooning Creationism. Oh well, maybe for Christmas.

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