Thursday, January 10, 2008

Florida! The Best Education The18th Century Can Provide

We're coming to you today from the Get It Through Your Thick Head Department here in the marbled halls of IM Central. GITYTH is a wholly owned subsidy of the What Part Of No Don't You Understand Corporation in partnership with When Donkeys Fly, Inc.

Now, this isn't the first time we've had to do this, so we'd appreciate it is you'd put down your Jesus action figure and PAY ATTENTION!!!1!! First, do the words Dover, Pennsylvania mean anything? You remember. It was in all the papers. Well, except for the papers in Kansas and Texas apparently, but no matter, the point is the general populace, and particularly the judicial system is not impressed by the voices inside your head.

To some Floridians, introducing the word ''evolution'' into state science-education standards would be a needed step into the 21st century. Others urged state education officials to give other theories of the origin of life equal space and let students decide what to believe "because everyone knows that 14 year olds are excellent decision makers," said one parent of a girl who appeared to be about six months pregnant.

The proposed standards contain instructions on how evolution should be taught, beginning in kindergarten. The draft declares: "Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.''

"What are you going to believe?" asked a parent. "The evidence of science or what it says in the bible? God put all that stuff on earth to test our faith."

''Do we want Florida to be the laughingstock of the United States, like Tennessee was at one time, because we teach creationism alongside evolution?'' asked J. Alan Beech, 80, who teaches at Miami Dade College's north campus.

"People have laughed at me all my life, responded West Palm Beach parent Laura Lopez, who wore a shirt saying ''Don't Condone What God Condemns. "People's own belief doesn't negate the reality that the earth was created by God,'' she said.

When it was pointed out that she may have that backwards because religion was about belief and science was about reality she said it really didn't matter which way it goes "as long as I don't have to think about it too much. I get headaches.".

Oscar Howard Jr., superintendent of the 3,300-student Taylor County Public Schools near Tallahassee, drove nine hours to speak against the new standards. His district's five-member school board had unanimously voted to oppose them about a month ago. ''We do not believe that evolution is a fact,'' he said. "It should be taught as a theory along with other theories.''

When it was pointed out that evolution was taught as a theory, a scientific theory based on facts Howard replied that he didn't want to be confused by "all that high falutin' educational stuff" and "neither do students."

In the past few months, thousands have commented on the proposed standards on a state website. The vast majority of comments have favored the teaching of evolution. "That's just because a lot of us don't write so good," said Ms. Lopez.

Debate in Florida echoes that in Texas, which is preparing a similar revision of its science-education standards. And it also reflects a nationwide split: A Gallup Poll in June showed that 53 percent of Americans questioned believe in evolution, while 44 percent do not.

OK, maybe there is a problem with schools in this country.

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