Rio Rancho, NM School Board “Creates” Standards Controversy

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Well, it’s Official. It’s not just the New York Times believing the Discovery Institute’s line that New Mexico’s new school science standards “embraced the institute’s ‘teach the controversy’ approach.”

Now it’s the Rio Rancho Public Schools.

On Monday, August 22nd, the Rio Rancho (NM) School Board adopted “Science Policy 401”, over the protests of most of the attendees at the meeting.

The policy begins by saying

The Rio Rancho Board of Education recognizes that scientific theories, such as theories regarding biological and cosmological origins, may be used to support or to challenge individual religious and philosophical beliefs. Consequently, the teaching of science in public school science classrooms may be of great interest and concern to students and their parents.

It gets worse from there. Much worse.

Rio Rancho is just northwest of Albuquerque, and is a bedroom community for Intel, the giant chip-maker, which reports that “Today, Intel New Mexico is the largest private-sector industrial employer in Albuquerque.”

The newly adopted science policy is online here.

The prime movers behind the policy are RRPS Board members Don Schlichte and Martin Scharfglass. As it turns out, Schlichte is a Senior Pastor, and Scharfglass is a Pastor/Elder at Rio West Community Church in Rio Rancho. (Click here for a photo.)

In a story published a few days after the meeting, the Rio Rancho Observer’s Gary Herron wrote

In a marathon meeting Monday, the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education narrowly approved its controversial Policy 401 on science education.

The measure passed despite 19 of the 24 speakers opposing the policy during the public comment portion of the meeting. More than half of the two-hour long meeting was devoted to the embattled science education policy discussion and vote.

… Most of the people speaking out against the policy were science teachers at Rio Rancho High School. They contended that evolution and Darwinian theory are contained within the state standards for the teaching of science, that Creationism, now with the pseudonym, “Intelligent Design,” is not.

… Dan Barbour, SciMatics Academy head, said he wanted to “teach science, not challenge beliefs.”

Many of those who agreed with Barbour professed to be Christians but wanted to keep their religious beliefs out of their science classrooms, and one teacher said that “Darwinian theory is a cornerstone.”

Brian Wade, a science teacher for seven years at RRHS, said theology should be “taught where it belongs, Catechism.” There is no dispute over whether evolution occurred, he continued, “This is a non-issue in science.”

Harry Van Buren, a professor at the University of New Mexico, urged the board not to pass the policy, saying, “Science is not democratic nor is it concerned with fairness” and that teachers should spend less time teaching bad science and more time on good science.

Another speaker, agreeing the policy was not necessary, said, “This is politics, this is religion, this is not science.”

But Schlichte and Scharfglass contended there have been recent “gaps and inconsistencies” cited in the theory of evolution.

The day before the policy was passed (by 3 to 2), Don Schlichte defended it on the pages of the Rio Rancho Observer, writing

Rio Rancho school board members Martin Scharfglass and I have proposed a science education policy concerning biological and cosmological origins, which the school board will vote on during the Monday, Aug. 22 meeting.

… Although evolution will certainly continue to be taught, as the standards require, it’s unfortunate, and unwise, for the state to force-feed any one, and only one, interpretation concerning origins to our students, not because it violates someone’s philosophical views, but because it violates the state standards and Benchmarks for science in the classroom. Examining alternative explanations is not just a good idea, folks - it’s the law.

To quote the last sentence of the proposed policy, which in turn has been taken directly from the State Content Standards: “ … discussions about issues that are of interest to both science and individual religious and philosophical beliefs will acknowledge that reasonable people may disagree about the meaning and interpretation of data.” What are we teaching our kids if all sides in this current policy dialogue do not model respect for intellectual diversity?

The New Mexico Academy of Science issued a press release on August 26th about the new policy. The complete NMAS statement is online here

The Academy had this to say:

This new policy appears innocent. But the most dangerous part is the sentence in italics, which is NOT in New Mexico standards. Instead, these actually say:

9-12.16 Understand that reasonable people may disagree about some issues that are of interest to both science and religion (e.g., the origin of life on Earth, the cause of the Big Bang, the future of Earth).

The standards note that reasonable people may disagree about some issues; they say nothing about entertaining all possible “meanings and interpretations of data.”

Even the word “discussion” does not appear anywhere in New Mexico’s science standards. And discussion at the August 22nd Board meeting clearly demonstrated the ideology and intent of the policy’s supporters – making design-based claims against evolution one of Rio Rancho’s school policies.

The Academy opposes policy 401 because it proposes a completely inaccurate definition of science itself. Saying that “reasonable people may disagree about the meaning and interpretation of data” obscures the fact that, in science, all ideas and observations are not created equal. Alternative ideas are tested in science every day – but if they fail, they are discarded for better explanations and conclusions.

… If scientists simply agreed to disagree about “the meaning and interpretation of data,” scientific progress would cease. Science is about testing ideas and claims, not pretending that all “interpretations” are equally valid.

If the new Rio Rancho Science Policy “has been taken directly from the State Content Standards,” why isn’t the Academy taking this issue up with the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED), instead of the Rio Rancho Public Schools? The answer is that Policy 401 adds new language to the standards, and changes the definition of science itself in the process.

… Rio Rancho’s students and teachers deserve real science in their classrooms, not the anti-evolution spin of Intelligent Design’s many pundits and lawyers. The New Mexico Academy of Science urges the Rio Rancho School Board to reconsider this unnecessary policy that has no basis in science.

Stay tuned to the Thumb for more on this developing story.

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The Creeping Doom from Naked Writing Dot Com on August 26, 2005 9:41 PM

It looks like the a title="The Panda's Thumb: Rio Rancho, NM School Board "Creates" Standards Controversy" href="http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/rio_rancho_nm_s.html">Creeping Doom has arrived in New Mexico, capping off it's infections of P... Read More

16 Comments

First Pedro pledges to put some Santos on the walls, now this?

The Rio Rancho Board of Education recognizes that scientific theories, such as theories regarding biological and cosmological origins, may be used to support or to challenge individual religious and philosophical beliefs.

Well, that certainly will make it easier in court, won’t it.

As I’ve always said, fundies are by far their own worst enemies. Let them talk long enough, and they shoot themselves in the head every single time.

Ah, it is time, once again, to introduce a local school board to The Flying Spaghetti Monster. All Pastafarians , indeed, all free thinkers, should join the effort.

RAmen.

“he Rio Rancho Board of Education recognizes that scientific theories, such as theories regarding biological and cosmological origins, may be used to support or to challenge individual religious and philosophical beliefs.” Such as the belief that white people were created in a lab by a mad scientist. Intelligent design, right? Teach the controversy!! “Consequently, the teaching of science in public school science classrooms may be of great interest and concern to students and their parents.” The question of whether parents want their kids to have a promising future in a 21st century job market is important, yes. “The Board also acknowledges the conditional trust parents place in public education, as well as the requirements of the Constitution and New Mexico education law, that the classroom not be used to indoctrinate students into any religious or philosophical belief system.” So, no ID? “Because of these concerns, this policy recognizes that the Rio Rancho Public Schools should teach an objective science education, without religious or philosophical bias, that upholds the highest standards of empirical science.” So no ID - or any of this pretend ‘evidence against evolution’ either … “Therefore, science teachers in Rio Rancho Public Schools will align their instruction with the District’s approved curricula and fully comply with the requirements of the New Mexico 2003 revised Science Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Performance Standards.” As long as they get to see the real standards, not the special Rio West Community Church Pastors’ ‘interpretation.’ Remember: “ reasonable people may disagree about the meaning and interpretation of data.” Well, Dr. Smith thinks we should operate immediately, but Dr. Bumblefrack of the Discovery Institute (PhD, philosophy) thinks your child is fine …

As a science teacher in Rio Rancho who has also taught math and statistics, I was amused by the Albuquerque Tribune’s coverage of this story, in which they repeatedly stated that teachers in Rio Rancho are now being “allowed” to teach alternative views in the classroom. I was at that meeting. The leaders of this local fundamentalist church came in with their agenda and ignored consensus, majority opinion, and the law. That is not leadership; it is narcisism. To be honest, what bothers me the most is when students are used as a platform for adults’ political idealology. It’s enough to make me want to join the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Sounds like the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt people.

Let us remember that evolution is a theory and is NOT fact. Let us remember that the Bible is very old but still in existence and use, because it is very relevant and through history and has been proved true in many,many ways. It is also much about the future as well as the past.

To leave the Bible out of the classroom is to stick your head in the sand about what the Creator has to say about the creation!! When all else fails, and it has,read the directions. You are not giving the student the facts to learn with if you leave the Bible out of the classroom. I have used it myself in the homeschooling I have done because the grammar is perfect for copying for penmanship, among many other topics of interest. We are not even mentioning the faith that it contains for life. Aside from its most important purpose, the Bible is amazing.

After thinking about writing the obvious replies (like, Evolution is fact AND theory) to the post #45344, I was wondering: Why are people always so careful when religious people are around? I mean, it is like talking to a 14year old who believes in Santa Claus, you don´t want to be rude, but on the other hand, this non-sense has to stop.

The bible is old? So are other books, even more so. Proven true? Not literally and proven wrong also counts. The creator has to say? The bible was written by people. All else fails? People are better off following reason, not religion. Grammar perfect for penmanship? I really don´t think so. Bible is amazing? But not as a science book.

Mrs. Adams Wrote:

When all else fails, and it has,read the directions.

Your right! All has failed and let’s look to see why:

Other than the Bible, there is NO historicle documentation that the Israelites were slaves of the Egyptians.

The moon is NOT a source of light.

The Garden of Eden, has never been found. Even if it had, we still have that pesky angel that is standing guard. I got an email where some “fundie” said that the Garden of Eden was in IRAQ…Yeah, along with Peter Pan and NeverNever land.

The earth is not flat.

There has NEVER been any geological evidence to support the Genesis FLOOD story:

The earth is not the center of the solar system (universe).

If your neighbor (as in country or tribe) doesn’t believe in the one true God…KILL THEM, wives, and babies.

If you are not the chosen race all other races must DIE a horrible death. And if you don’t, you will die for not doing the work of God. Then God himself will destroy them so that all may see his GLORY and His POWER. (Old Testament theme).

Your RIGHT Mrs Adams, there is so many wonderful stories of truth and science in the bible. So many ethical and Moral foundations to which ALL people should adhere to.

Mrs. Adams Wrote:

Aside from its most important purpose, the Bible is amazing.

The only purpose that I have seen the Bible used for is for brainwashing the uneducated to believing in an all powerfull psycopathic murder and actually convince people that he is Good, and that he is Love. The only deciever’s here is the leader’s of a church.

The Bible is nothing more than a ancient tribal book of myth and legends that is no more scientifically accurate that Homer’s Illiad and the Oddessy.

Everything that has been literally taken out of the Bible has been shamelessly proven wrong.

Everything that has been literally taken out of the Bible has been shamelessly proven wrong.

Scientifically, anyway.

But “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a pretty darn good idea.

Pity, though. that most “Christians” can’t seem to follow it.

Lenny Wrote:

Scientifically, anyway.

Especially scientific, there are other things too, with regards to morality and theology as well. One that I have harped on is the idea that God is Love. Which isn’t scientific, but if you take the Bible word for word what it says, actually indicates the exact opposite. Especially if you subscribe to the New Testament definition of Love (aka Charity in the KJV version).

Lenny Wrote:

But “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a pretty darn good idea.

May be a good idea, but Confucious (Chinese philosopher) said 500 years earlier than Jesus. To me it is sad to think that a country independent and unknown to the Jews at the time could come up with this moral instruction without the divine intervention of God. Doesn’t say a lot for their supreme being.

Another one of my problems. Name one thing in the Bible that isn’t some spin off of an earlier religion, or hasn’t been said before by an older philosopher.

Over and over again, creationists show their ignorance of the scientific definition of “theory.” While colloquial usage may have “theory” mean “a wild-ass guess as to an explanation,” that is certainly not the scientific definition. “Evolution is a theory,” sure. Since this means that it has not been proven wrong, after plenty of tries, I do not think “it’s a theory” carries the implication that the creationists would like it to.

Evolution is both a Theory AND a Fact.

Any creationist/ID’er wanting to get the information straight from the “horses mouth” can go here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evo[…]on-fact.html

Now these creationist/ID’ers can no longer claim ignorance…such claims would be invalid and dishonest!

But “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a pretty darn good idea.

May be a good idea, but Confucious (Chinese philosopher) said 500 years earlier than Jesus.

Indeed. So did Buddha, the Vedas, and nearly every other religion before and since.

I suspect there’s a good reason for that. ;>

To me it is sad to think that a country independent and unknown to the Jews at the time could come up with this moral instruction without the divine intervention of God. Doesn’t say a lot for their supreme being.

Doesn’t say a lot for the Jews at the time, either. Just as it doesn’t say a lot for all the fundies today who blither that there’s no reason to follow “do unto others” unless divine retribution is certain for those who don’t.

Sad, isn’t it, that their only incentive to be a good person is because they’ll be punished if they don’t.

Me, I’m the sort of person who stops at a red light even if there aren’t any cops around, simply because I don’t want to hit anyone. They, on the other hand, would happily speed right on through if they knew they wouldn’t get caught.

Another one of my problems. Name one thing in the Bible that isn’t some spin off of an earlier religion, or hasn’t been said before by an older philosopher.

Alas, that is true of nearly ANY philosophical or religious idea. There truly is nothing new under the sun. People are people, and people tend to think in the same ways. No matter how long ago or where they lived.

Lenny Wrote:

But “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a pretty darn good idea.

Actually, I like to point out that Jesus was even more radical, stating “love others, regardless of what they do to you”. One of the best parables (sp?) is that of the “good” Samaritan (never called good in the Bible), helping a Jew which, as a race, at the time, hated him and wanted to anhilate his entire civilization from the face of the Earth for not following the exact letter of the law.

The difference? It seems that I could go to certain US states and get into gunfights with the local inhabitants while still obeying the “do unto others…” while not obeying the “turn the other cheek”.

Not sure how many covilizations came up independently with the second one, unfortunately, although I’m willing to bet at least a couple.

Miah Wrote:

To me it is sad to think that a country independent and unknown to the Jews at the time could come up with this moral instruction without the divine intervention of God.

I keep thinking that God wants us to follow that moral instruction above all other things. Those civilizations that came up with the idea on their own didn’t need God beating the idea into their thick skulls, unlike some other civilizations I could mention, starting with mine, of course.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf Wrote:

Actually, I like to point out that Jesus was even more radical, stating “love others, regardless of what they do to you”. One of the best parables (sp?) is that of the “good” Samaritan (never called good in the Bible), helping a Jew which, as a race, at the time, hated him and wanted to anhilate his entire civilization from the face of the Earth for not following the exact letter of the law.

I don’t know how accurate your depiction of the Samaritan was. Of course we don’t have their teachings…but it would seem that they were more humanistic than the “Priests or Levites” of that day. It would reason that the Samaritans were not taught to treat people differently just because of race…rather they had a HUMAN value for everyone.

It wasn’t a Jew that the Samaritan helped…the Bible says…”A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho”

Now the Jew’s of that time were indeed racist and frowned upon any and all races because they weren’t “Choosen by God”. Even Jesus himself was very racist in his attitude towards other races. So it wasn’t Jesus that suggested “Do good unto those that despitefully use you”, it was the Samaritan that “BY HIS ACTIONS” showed Jesus a better way to treat his “neighbors”.

I agree that ALL should follow this example. However, I don’t need the threat of eternal damnation to do it. I value human life more than a God, fairy, Elf, Spaghetti monster, angel, or whatever mystical concoction that can be dreamed of.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on August 26, 2005 7:44 PM.

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