Nice Time: Kentucky Approves New Science Standards That Include Actual Science

Nice Time: Kentucky Approves New Science Standards That Include Actual Science

In a rational world, it wouldn't really be news that the Kentucky Board of Education approved new science standards for the state's public schools -- it would be a small note somewhere, and a disgruntled teuthologist might write an angry letter about the new standards' disappointing lack of emphasis on cephalopods, and that would be it. But this is U.S. Amercia in 2013, so of course it's actually kind of a big deal that a state in the Bible Belt will continue teaching evolution and require students to have an understanding of how science works. And so, three cheers, Kentucky Board of Education! Even in the face of an organized effort to strip science out of the science curriculum, you did your job.

As you may recall, the "Next Generation Science Standards," part of an overall effort to improve K-12 education, were opposed by many speakers at a public hearing, mostly because the new standards continue to include evolution. Among other objections, speakers worried that teaching science promotes an "atheistic world view," "teaches that our children are the property of the state," and because it doesn't give equal value to religious myths, would lead to persecution of Christian children and maybe a bit of genocide. After reports of such objections made the national media, the Board was also deluged with emails and petitions from supporters of science education.

Happily, the Board of Ed pretty much said, Yeah, we heard you, but we're going to teach science anyway. More specifically, in answer to objections to teaching evolution, the Board's "Statement of Consideration" document was pretty unequivocal, noting that the existing standards include evolution, and that:

Biological evolution is the fundamental, unifying theory that underlies all the life sciences. It has formed the basis of productive research for over a century. Few scientific theories have had as transformative and widespread impact on their respective fields as has evolution. This is why evolution is universally accepted among professional biology researchers ... There is no significant ongoing debate within the scientific community regarding the legitimacy of evolution as a scientific idea.

The statement may not prove satisfactory to all, however, as it does not address the crucial question of why, if we evolved from apes, there are still apes, HENNGGHH?

Similarly, the Board rejected calls for including creationism/intelligent design, saying that neither is a valid scientific theory, and adding that teaching religion as science has been repeatedly declared unconstitutional. No pointless lawsuits for us, thanks. The statement also endorsed continuing to teach about climate change, citing the broad consensus among scientists, and, in a sentence that almost lets you hear the committee members rolling their eyes, noting that "the standards do not require students to engage in any sort of civic or legal course of action." Were it us, we'd have added, "for fuck's sake," which explains why we do not work in an education bureaucracy.

So there you have it! Kentucky stands up for science, and issues a polite but firm rejection to the wingnut fringe. Applause all around, and can we dare to hope that Louisiana is paying attention?

[WFPL from alert tipster "JKM" / Full Statement of Consideration (pdf file) here]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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