Report Cards Are In

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It’s near the end of the fall term, and Report Cards are in!

The Fordham Foundation report on America’s science standards, “The State of State Science Standards 2005”, has been released.

Links to state reports, along with their overall letter grades (A-F) and evolution scores (0 - 3 points possible), appear below the fold. There are some key points emerging from this report.

For one, this year’s dumbing-down of Kansas standards got the Fordham folks mad - really mad.

Note added In Proof:The early warnings have been justified. Kansas has adopted standards whose treatment of evolutionary material has been radically compromised. The effect transcends evolution, however. It now makes a mockery of the very definition of science. The grade for Kansas is accordingly reduced to F.

Additionally, the report directly contradicts the claims of the Discovery Institute’s incessant revisionists. In a report on the Dover suit on November 10th, Steve Jordahl of Family News in Focus reports

…Rob Crowther of the Discover [sic] Institute says that fight is probably coming. … He says the ACLU hopes to ride this issue to the Supreme Court. Crowther says four other states have successfully integrated the controversies surrounding evolution into their curriculum. They are Ohio, New Mexico, Minnesota and ironically Pennsylvania, where the state has adopted a much broader standard than Dover. …

Is this really the case? No, No, No, and No.

As reported previously, The Discovery Institute has been fabricating stories about the states. Even the New York Times has been fooled, but at least they corrected the error.

Will Rob Crowther correct his error? I’m skeptical.

Here are the grades for each state. How did your state do?

STATE LETTER GRADE EVOLUTION SCORE/3
Alabama F 0
Alaska F 0
Arizona B 2
Arkansas D 0
California A 3
Colorado B 1
Connecticut C 0
Delaware C 3
District of Columbia C 2
Florida F 0
Georgia B 3
Hawaii F 1
Idaho F 0
Illinois B 3
Indiana A 3
Kansas F* 3*
Kentucky D 1
Louisiana B 2
Maine D 0
Maryland B 3
Massachusetts A 3
Michigan D 3
Minnesota B 2
Mississippi F 0
Missouri C 3
Montana F 0
Nebraska F 1
Nevada D 2
New Hampshire F 0
New Jersey B 3
New Mexico A 3
New York A 3
North Carolina B 1
North Dakota D 1
Ohio B 3
Oklahoma F 0
Oregon F 2
Pennsylvania C 3
Rhode Island C 3
South Carolina A 3
South Dakota D 1
Tennessee B 3
Texas F 1
Utah C 2
Vermont C 3
Virginia A 3
Washington C 3
West Virginia B 1
Wisconsin F 0
Wyoming F 1

Some memorable quotes from the complete report: Page 14

The inclusion of such anti-evolution content is a goal of contemporary “intelligent design” creationism, now overtaking other, older forms of creationism in the perennial struggle to discredit “Darwinism.” A decade ago, this movement, which acquired a command post and funding source in the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Washington, argued vigorously for explicit teaching of the evidence for intelligent design—for the role of external, conscious agency in the history of life on Earth. When examined by qualified scientists and mathematicians, however, that evidence turned out not to be evidence,5 and so it remains — no evidence — at the time of writing. The promoters of intelligent design creationism have perforce retreated to arguments that invoke the popular and conveniently vague educationist formula, “critical thinking.” The claim now is that evidence against “Darwinism” exists, that curriculum-makers should include it as an exercise in critical thinking, and that “freedom of speech” or “fairness” requires that they do so. The hidden agenda is to introduce doubt—any possible doubt — about evolution at the critical early stage of introduction to the relevant science.

Page 26

Evolution is the organizing principle of modern biology, and its simple but powerful principles and algorithms have colonized scholarly disciplines formerly as remote from biology as economics, engineering, and literature. For us to have made no progress in establishing sound standards for K-12 education in evolution is very discouraging; but then, things could clearly have been worse.

7 TrackBacks

The Fordham Foundation, an organization that carries out research on elementary and secondary education reform, has just completed an analysis of state science standards. This particular study does not evaluate actual performance, but only the stated e... Read More

How did your state do? More info in this post on Panda's Thumb, with a table broken down by state rank here. Note: Iowa isn't on there. We don't have a set of state standards; it's left up to each district to decide what to teach. Read More

Way To Go Indiana! from First: Principles on December 8, 2005 12:59 PM

Thanks to the Panda's Thumb for referencing Indiana's 91% rating in science education. Read More

Well the grades for the state science standards have been released and our state has improved its score from an F to a B. Our new standards are now 12th in the nation. Our standards were going to be... Read More

“The State of State Science Standards 2005” has been released by the Fordham Foundation. Texas got an F. But I guess no big suprise there. Anyway Panda's Thumb has more details and grades for all the states. Read More

The Panda’s Thumb: Report Cards Are In: It’s near the end of the fall term, and Report Cards are in! I need to read the report to see where we went wrong. Our near neighbors didn’t do very well: Idaho and Oregon both failed. ... Read More

California Gets an A from Abnormal Interests on December 8, 2005 11:41 PM

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation has published its report on The State of State Science Standards 2005 and California jointed Virginia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Indiana, New York, and New Mexico in getting an A grade. Nearly half of the states... Read More

60 Comments

Indiana got an A? I live in Indiana, we’ve got creationists and IDers up to our arm pits and they run for office and get elected. How the hell did that happen?

What happened to Iowa?

This should not be interpreted as a judgement on how effective science education is in a particular state, merely how good the standards are. If the educational result were reported here, South Carolina would not get an A, f.i.

Leaving out an entire state with no explanation is going to lower their grade!

Iowa is indeed not included. From page 5’s Executive Summary,

(Iowa is not included because it does not publish science standards.)

-DT

I’m glad to see that Georgia improved its score from last time. For once, biology is not what is holding my state behind.

Bouffant: Iowa wasn’t included because it doesn’t publish science standards.

This may be a dumb question, but does Iowa have science standards? Are they Top Secret?

Alabama has F and 0, and Judge Roy Moore hasn’t even been elected governor yet. I think we need higher letters and negative numbers. After all, a state that doesn’t mention evolution at all gets the same score as a state that sneaks in clerics as “guest lecturers” and has them preach that the Bible is scientific fact.

South Carolina has an A, for now. This is great (and astounding) news, but the attack from the right over ID is comming soon.

Just watch how quickly this falls

As a Florida resident and a member of the N.C.S.E I am not at all surprised at my states pathetic score.

If the Indiana Legislature’s threat to mandate teaching ID is more than a diversion from their usual shenanigans, I’ll expect to see our standard drop quite a bit.

In the meantime, I’ll bask in the glow :).

Well, well, well! Tennessee didn’t do too bad! We’ve come a loooooong way since Scopes.

Alas, my old Kentucky home didn’t fare as well. Now I’m going to have to hear it from every Volunteer I know.

Nebraska got an F. I passed this along to the local newspaper.

My home state Maryland got a B, which is lower than I would expect considering the very impressive science education I received at my high school. My guess is that the rather sordid state of the Baltimore city schools dragged the scores down.

Yay California!

California’s standards vary delightfully from the norm: they are brief, there is no bombast, and they are realistic about the capacities of children for making sense of abstract ideas. Process is stressed where it should be, and in plain and appropriate language.

We got an A.

Tiax Wrote:

My home state Maryland got a B, which is lower than I would expect considering the very impressive science education I received at my high school. My guess is that the rather sordid state of the Baltimore city schools dragged the scores down.

The scores are based on the state science standards (a written document) only and have nothing to do with the state of the schools themselves or how well the schools adhere to the standards.

Scores like these are fine and dandy, but nearly meaningless. What truly matters is what happens in the classroom. I cannot back it up with data, but from nearly 40 years in and on the fringes of editing/publishing K-12 science texts and visiting countless schools from coast to coast, a disproportionate number of teachers tip toe around evolution or avoid the subject altogether, state standards be damned. Until this country’s biology classrooms are staffed by teachers who will fearlessly teach science without regard for imagined or real threats from the fundies, the population will remain ignorant and unaccepting of science, when it conflicts with the teachings of their church. Ah, if only the Dalai Lama could be this nation’s most eminent religious teacher!

Well well well…

Idaho failed. What a surprise. Nothing like living in a state where the religious control pretty much everything. Frankly, I’m surprised Utah did any better, what with Buttars and all.

If I remember from school, and it was a while ago, I had to learn about evolution in my spare time during grade school (something that got me sent to the office by my fundie teachers a couple of times) and it really wasn’t mentioned at all in high school. It’s common practice here to simply avoid the topic in most elementary and high schools, yet it’s perfectly okay to thump a Bible in government classes when you want to make a point.

Arrrrgh!

Ohio does poorly. But at our school, it is science all the way (and Ron Numbers if you are reading this we aren’t elitist!). I asked my daughter to ask her biology teacher if there would be any effects from the new ‘science’ standards especially from IDC. She asked me not to waste her time since her teacher dismissed it in a few minutes. I guess I am lucky. But my cousin in Cobb County, Ga has had a tougher time. She and her husband participated in the discussions only to find that the IDCists gave up their one minute at the podium to one speaker who droned on for 30 minutes; while the science side did its best to take turns at the podium two minutes at a time. They are of course thrilled now after the Courts threw out the stickers. But my nephews don’t take too kindly to being ribbed about going to a creo school district by their cousins in Ohio.

California’s standards vary delightfully from the norm: they are brief, there is no bombast, and they are realistic about the capacities of children for making sense of abstract ideas. Process is stressed where it should be, and in plain and appropriate language.

YAY indeed!

California is holding its own pretty well against the worst political trends that seem to be engulfing so much of America, like sticking it to Schwarzenegger last month. Helps counterbalance my shame about what the US in general is doing.

It was suggested that I provide the Fordham results sorted by final scores (percentages), which I’ve posted here.

Dave

Virginia also performed excellently. It’s good to see that Mark Warner’s hard work has paid off, and we just elected his lieutenant, Tim Kaine, to succeed him. We may have nothing but idiots in the statehouse, but our governors are top notch. Look for Mark to be making plenty of appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming months.

Holy crap! I can’t believe my state (Wisconsin) got an F! I had no idea our standards were so low. I mean, yeah we do have a lot of religious- right people up here, but the scientific education I got was great, I think. And yes, I realize these are just the standards we’re talking about, but wow. Just…wow.

Would it be possible for the Fordham Foundation to review the Kansas standards that were originally submitted by the writing committee?

That comparison would be interesting.

Flint Wrote:

Alabama has F and 0, and Judge Roy Moore hasn’t even been elected governor yet. I think we need higher letters and negative numbers.

For Alabama, I think we need negative letters. Or maybe just i.…

Matrick, as a fellow Wisconsin-educated person, I sympathize. But remember that the report refers to standards, not educational systems. The Wisconsin standards got dinged for being vague and over-broad, which, from the quotes in the report, they are. The report also points out that local boards have lots of leeway, and that advanced courses are entirely locally devised. Besides its excellent university, Wisconsin is also home to the Grantsburg school district which tried to push ID into the curriculum pre-Dover, and to a very lenient voucher law (for Milwaukee, primarily). There are lots of contradictions in the Badger state, home of Gaylord Nelson, and of Joe McCarthy. At the same time. And equally proud of both.

Yeah, Virginia, where I live, did good in spite of being home to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Here in Virginia Beach we almost hired the guy who was Superintendent during the Cobb County fracas. It doesn’t seem he was on the IDiots side though. BTW, our local paper, The Virginian-Pilot is definately pro-science.

What does the asterisk by Kansas’s score mean in the table sorted by score?

The California Content Standards are great to work with in curriculum development. Bear in mind that each school district prepares its own controling document for implimentation conforming to the State standards. Some of the California school districts are larger than entire states.

I teach math and used to teach physics and physical science in New mexico. Standards are a wish list of what we ought to teach in a subject, not what we really teach. I don’t think I could teach the standards for algebra 1 in three years, much less one academic year. I teach AP (advanced placement) calculus for which there are no state or district standards. In this case standards are setr by the content of the College Board’s Advanced Placement caclulus test.

What I mean to say is that the state standards really don’t tell the story of how good science education really is in a particular state. Individual teachers have a tremendous amount of autonomity in the classroom so long as they don’t call the school administration’s attention to what they are doing.

California’s standards vary delightfully from the norm: they are brief, there is no bombast,…

Do I sense a smidgen of frustration at other state standards coming out in that comment?

Bob

I was a bit surprised that my own state of origin (Connecticut) got only a C. I’m a recent and probably temporary transplant to New York State (by way of Massachusetts and Michigan), and was not surprised by this state’s A. I don’t have children, but co-workers with kids in the more affluent public schools around here seem pleased with their kids’ science education. Of course, my co-workers are fellow biologists, and are generally willing to speak up to teachers and school administrators when they feel it’s necessary.

I’m definitely going to have to read more of that report, especially where it addresses discovery learning. I’ve been an instructor in a discovery-learning-based biology course for future K-12 teachers, and it was a struggle for a lot of the students. My own observations (anecdotal rather than experimental): The ones who already liked science and had a strong background in the subject tended to do well, but it was very difficult for the less science-focused students to understand when they were on the right track. I’m not opposed to discovery learning in a classroom setting, but I think that, to paraphrase Pasteur, it favors the prepared mind. And, IMO, most college students don’t seem to have obtained that preparation during their K-12 years.

This is insane! These scores on evolution make no sense at all! Extremely unhelpful! This will be used against us in court fights anywhere except Kansas, and what?, Alaska? Paul Gross was in on this? What the hell?

Ok, I get it now. I skimmed some of their huge document. They’ve essentially signed off on “equal time”.

quote: “We have found it necessary to add, beyond Criterion E1, a grade (on the usual 0—3 scale) specifically for the handling of evolution in the life sciences and the other historical sciences. A standards document that gives evolutionary science appropriate weight, at least within biology, that introduces the main lines of evidence, including findings in the fossil record, genetics, molecular biology, and development, and that connects all this with Earth history, merits a “3.” The above, but with some big gaps, gets a “2.””1” is a marginally acceptable treatment. If the treatment is useless, disguised, or absent, the grade is “0.” —————————

In the discussion just prior to that they sum up, with “a general quality of overkill” (oh for an editor), that the conundrum of the school board trying to serve a religious constituency is hopeless.

Thanks for nothing Dr. Gross, et al. I’m extremely disappointed.

Sorry, but I’m upset. Didn’t make myself plain. The existance of creationism materials in the school apparently has no bearing on the score. So if teacher says all the right words about evolution, and then gives the standard creationism crap designed to ridicule everything just said previously, they get a high score from Dr. Gross et al. Insane.

Apparently, the official sanctioned existance of “critical analysis” BS only shows up in the “Seriousness” score. Seriousness. Are these people from another planet?

The existance of creationism materials in the school apparently has no bearing on the score.

The evaluation is of the science standards, not school systems. Standards say what should be taught. They do not prohibit the teaching of other stuff. So, yes, if an individual teacher or even a school district decides to adopt equal time, “critical analysis”, or flat-earthism, but that does not appear in the state science standards, the evaluation of the standards themselves does not change.

Ah. So if the standards are silent and the actual teaching is excellent, a state flunks. Conversely, if the standards are excellent and the schools actually lead science classes in prayer, the state gets a top score. Great.

Something tells me our eye isn’t quite on the ball here…

Wesley Elsberry wrote: >The evaluation is of the science standards, not >school systems. Standards say what should be >taught. They do not prohibit the teaching of >other stuff.

I realize that, but standards that explicitly allow “teach the controversy” are given a high score for evolution education. Understand, I’m not shocked at the evaluation of science education standards. I’m shocked at their specific scores for evolution education. The parts of the report on evolution are not completely limited to the standards documents either. Take the contrast between Kansas and Ohio on the map on page 7, for instance. Kansas gets the lowest score while Ohio is scored as “sound”. Kansas is based on Ohio! The only substantial difference between Kansas and Ohio is that the Ohio officials are sly enough to be discreet about it. OBOE successfully convinced the majority of the population that they had made an academically sound compromise. Kansas tried to do the same thing and stepped in it. For that they get a low score.

No, I’m sorry. I don’t see how this can be defended. The written exposition says one thing, and the effective summary (tables, graphics) say something else. They’re implicitly stating that equal time is an acceptable political compromise so long as it is done quietly. The scores given for evolution in Ohio significantly damage a legal challenge to the creationism lesson plan ***which is explicitly facilitated by the standards language for critical analysis of evolution education, and the adopted definition of science falsely attributed to the Ohio Academy of Science.

A good set of standards can accomplish a couple of things. First, consider that the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Act requires that schools show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The tests that are given to determine AYP are supposed to derive from the state standards. A good set of standards with a goodly amount of honest evolution included means that teachers, administrators, and school districts are rather forced to minimize any extraneous time spent on other topics (like - teach the controversy). There is tremendous pressure on districts and administrators to achieve AYP. Of course, this is certainly going to crash and burn in a few years becuase AYP is a specious concept when applied over the long term. It simply won’t work. But for now, every teacher and administrator I talk to rolls their eyes when this is mention, and then they start ringing their hands.

The other thing that good standards can do is to exclude undesirable topics and give good teachers and administrators a reason to not deviate into the ID type areas. We have seen this used in NM.

Of course, nothing will ever change the effect of what the teacher in the classroom does - good or bad standards. Standards are simply one of many tools that can be used to excuse absurdity or to encourage excellence.

For those still scratching their heads about what set off my primal scream, let me point out that in Ohio it is the standards that are the primary problem. They explicitly state that there should be critical analysis of evolution, and have a definition of science that removed statements about belief and empirical observation suggested by the OAS. I have to suspect that Gross et al. know all this as well as I do, if not better.

That and the fact that these people have good jobs and I don’t really bugs me. Want me to be circumspect? Give me a job. My principles are for sale.

“The evaluation is of the science standards, not school systems. Standards say what should be taught”

This is like an investor evaluating companies based on their Dilbertesque “mission statements”, rather than their actual performance.

Someone linked to an article, some threads back, about the paradox in American education and how we have some of the worst and best educated students. The average student’s science understanding was low, while the few elites were trained to a high degree. We’ve been abandoning the common man/student to concentrate our resources on an elite group.

Maybe that has to be re-thought?

A majority of students taking science and math courses today, in high school and college, might be turned off by the way these courses attempt to make little scientists out of them, rather than teach them the significance of the sciences and the meaning to their lives.

Do we have to think about science education for non-scientists? That is going to be the vast majority of students.

Only a few are going to become scientists. But everyone needs to understand what the sciences have to offer in knowledge about our world and ourselves and how far that ionformation can be trusted and why.

The Fordham Foundation doesn’t make a secret that it is politically conservative, and likely more sympathetic to Republican politicians than Democrat. The report’s analysis of the political problem a school faces when confronted with a fundamentalist constituency, the conclusion it makes from this that a political compromise is necessary, and the high marks they give Ohio despite its similarities to Kansas (yes, I’m talking about *STANDARDS*, as well as other governmental actions), all agrees with the stone walling denial policy of the Ohio administration that Ohio has any creationism problem. They flat out deny it, angrily, and congratulate themselves mightly for having crafted a compromise that everyone accepts “except for a very few shrill extremists”. Paul Gross has made the tacit decision that “equal time” is an acceptable political compromise. I don’t see any way around this conclusion. He may have made his conclusion in collaboration with Ohio officials, or he may have just accepted the tactic of Ohio as politically inevitable, but he’s made it. He’s made a big mistake. Anyone know this guy?

I was both surprised and gratified that Indiana scored well on the Fordham Foundation’s State Science Standards. I am somewhat new to your website (in fact, this is my first post), but I am very glad I found it! Your information and website links are helping me to become better educated in the whole Evolution vs. ID/Creationism conflict.

I am not a scientist, but rather a Professional Engineer. However, I have always been fascinated with science. My motivation for finding this site and similar ones is somewhat related with the comments made by Norman Doering at 61908. I am originally from Chicago, and had never even heard of teaching “Intelligent Design” until I moved to Indiana. It was through our local newspaper several months ago that I first learned that Indiana State Representative Bruce Borders, along with several other misguided representatives, are planning on introducing legislation that would mandate the teaching of ID in conjuction with Evolution. To its credit, our newspaper editorialized heavily against it. But some of the Letters to the Editor were still disturbing.

I am making every effort to educate myself about all of the objections and arguments that the ID/Creationist advocates commonly use, and have already written my own letters to both the local newspaper and to both my State Legislator and State Senator. What I am asking is there anything else that a concerned citizen, who is not a scientist, can do?

What is truly sad is that these politicians do not realize how badly they are hurting the future of the children (who they are claiming that they want to help). What they don’t realize is that when these high school kids come to college, they usually have to take some type of science class (even if they are not majoring in a scientific field). The students who come from evangelical families or private christian schools are finding out very fast that ID/Creationism doesn’t fly in college. But the sad thing is that many of them are quite intelligent and could probably do quite well in science, but their high school education will not let their minds go there - quite sad. I have a couple friends who are Biology Professors at the state university here in town where I live, and we have talked about this at some length.

One final point, I tend to lean conservative on many political issues. However, as stated very eloquently by both George Will and Charles Krauthammer, this issue is potentially going to be a severe wedge issue between mainstream thinking conservatives and evangelical christian conservatives.

Again, thank you for maintaining this great web site.

Tony,

I live in SW Ohio and the Chicago areas before moving to Indiana. I too am worried about the ID movement in this state. I’m not a PE (no need to take it in my line of work) but have passed the EIT and have 17 yrs experience in Engineering.

I frankly don’t think the politicians care about education or standards. They care about votes. Their announcement about mandating the teaching of ID could be to garner support from the Evangelicals and/or a distraction to take the public’s eye off of their otherwise poor performance.

I’ve sent a letter to my representative and told him that I will vote against any candidate at any level of government that moves these kinds of anti-education standards forward. I highly recommend that you write to your representatives about these issues and state your position in no uncertain terms.

I also suggest that you continue writing letters to the editor whenever you come across a pro-ID letter.

Here’s a web site with all the ammunition you’ll ever need on this topic: http://talkorigins.org

You’ll find this page particularly useful: http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/

I’m currently in a debate on two of the IndyStar blogs which discuss ID.

FreshThoughts: http://blogs.indystar.com/freshthou[…]tml#comments

Expresso: http://blogs.indystar.com/expresso/[…]tml#comments

My sneaking suspicion is that Gary Varvel (the political cartoonist for the IndyStar) is really just looking for “controversial” subjects to blog on. I think he uses the number of responses to boost his ego.

Good Luck!

Kansas has a new ID supporter running for a seat on the Board Of education -

““These evolutionists are saying that Jesus was half-chimpanzee, so was Mohammed and Buddha,” said Alan Detrich, a 58-year-old Lawrence Republican who takes classes at Kansas University. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Read more here

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/d[…]d/?evolution

He doesn’t seem to get that Jesus probably shared 98% of a chimpanzees DNA and not 50%.

In Mike’s last comment, he states

Paul Gross has made the tacit decision that “equal time” is an acceptable political compromise. I don’t see any way around this conclusion.

I don’t see how Mike came to this conclusion in the first place. For those wondering if Paul Gross is the monster Mike is making him out to be, please read these words from page 14 of the report. The authors write:

Criterion E1, the first of the two concerned with seriousness about science education, denies credit points to any standards that include, inter alia, ‘creationist anti-evolutionism disguised as critical thinking.’ The inclusion of such anti-evolution content is a goal of contemporary ‘intelligent design’ creationism, now overtaking other, older forms of creationism in the perennial struggle to discredit ‘Darwinism.’ A decade ago, this movement, which acquired a command post and funding source in the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Washington, argued vigorously for explicit teaching of the evidence for intelligent design—for the role of external, conscious agency in the history of life on Earth. When examined by qualified scientists and mathematicians, however, that evidence turned out not to be evidence, and so it remains—no evidence— at the time of writing. The promoters of intelligent design creationism have perforce retreated to arguments that invoke the popular and conveniently vague educationist formula, ‘critical thinking.’ The claim now is that evidence against ‘Darwinism’ exists, that curriculum-makers should include it as an exercise in critical thinking, and that ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘fairness’ requires that they do so. The hidden agenda is to introduce doubt—any possible doubt—about evolution at the critical early stage of introduction to the relevant science. …

Paul Gross is very aware of all the nuances of creationism, including “equal time.” If the above soundbite doesn’t convince you of this, perhaps you should check out the book Paul Gross co-authored with Barbara Forrest.

Dave

As has been said above, it’s important to remember that what really counts is what’s taught in the classroom. I’ve been a high school biology teacher in California for 12 years, and I remember in grad school hearing California’s Teacher of the Year (another biology teacher) talk about how he taught “both theories”. I personally know too many high school teachers who do not teach Evolution as the scientific theory it is. The ignorance and misinformation that kids bring with them into the classroom is astounding. My students learn the difference between belief and scientific theory, but I always receive a copy of the latest creationist publications from them each year, too!

Mr Christopher Wrote:

He doesn’t seem to get that Jesus probably shared 98% of a chimpanzees DNA and not 50%.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to use that observation. LOL, Good job.

Re: Comment #62293 Posted by Dave Thomas on December 9, 2005

Ignorance of what’s going on in specific states is understandable, unless you happen to be writing a report that pretends to be a definitive analysis of what specific states are doing about evolution education in their standards, and other official actions. I only know of the errors in the report regarding evolution education in Kansas and Ohio. I have to suspect that there are many other errors.

Both Kansas and Ohio have language in their state standards specifically designed to allow the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution in science classes, yet they both get the highest score for evolution education. Gross et al. claim in the discussion that they’re on to the “critical analysis” sham, yet “critical analysis of evolution” is called for right there in the Ohio state standards, and that’s what Kansas is calling it as well. It doesn’t matter how good the evolution science is in the standards when an “equal time” provision is slipped in for curriculla stating that all of the above is an atheistic conspiracy. It is outragous that Kansas and Ohio have high scores for evolution education in their standards.

Stating that the “seriousness” score makes up for it is ridiculous. What the hell is a “seriousness” score? No one is going to notice that Ohio got docked a couple points for “seriousness”, or understand why. The score balances good vs bad science, and doesn’t succeed at conveying anything about creationism intrusion, and glaringly so when there are two other scores specifically addressing evolution. Why bother mentioning it?

The analysis on page 7, as well as the discourse on evolution, is clearly not limited to what is in the state standards. Ohio has an honest to God creationism lesson plan officially adopted by the Ohio Board of Education, and strenuously and dishonestly defended by the board, the governor, and their appointees. For this Ohio gets the highest score for evolution education on page 7. Senseless.

Yes, I’ve read his book. I’m not confused at all about what Paul Gross knows about ID and creationism, but academics often make mistakes when confronted with politics. The politics of evolution in Ohio has produced a mixture of rightous ignorance, self-serving denial, and cynicism that has apparently won creationism a permanent place in the Ohio curriculum, now with Dr. Gross’ help. Ohio officials will swear on a stack of Bibles that there is no ID in the lesson plan that they so desperately need as a political doggy treat for the Christian fundamentalist far right they depend on for political power. The language was obfuscated and code words changed from the first drafts, but the lesson is still obviously derived from Wells and Behe (see http://science2.marion.ohio-state.e[…]n-plans.html). It presents the current DI strategy of “evidence against evolution”, which truthfully nothing more than scientific creationism, though you’d never get them to admit it. But Ohio government and education officials have found that they can easily confuse most people by swearing that there is no mention of ID in there, and its all good science.

So Paul Gross either did not bother to look at the state standards for Kansas and Ohio regarding evolution very carefully, or made the unsupportable decision that a little creationism doesn’t matter so long as good evolution education was in there (equal time), essentially agreeing with cynical politicians that a compromise of some sort is unavoidable, and Ohio’s is harmless. Take your pick. You can’t bury this by claiming that I’m ignorant of the facts, or miscontrued the report. The evolution scores are very unhelpful. If Paul Gross is a friend, and really believes all the words in the discussion, he’ll correct this immediately. If he’s just helping cover the butts of some cynical politicians then there’ll just be some more scorn forthcoming. Either way, if he’s really concerned about evolution and biology education in the US, he’s made a mistake. The creationism campaign will continue, using the templates of Ohio and Kansas as starting points. The Dover trial is nearly inconsequential. Someone will still have to drag a school board into court, and all you have to do is look at Ohio to see that this isn’t going to happen too often. Maybe the current Ohio creationism plan will eventually be taken to court as it becomes more popular, and it will, but it will just be replaced by new creationism lesson plans in supportive local districts, as allowed by the Ohio state standards. This type of compromise worked out by the DI in Kansas and Ohio (and yes, again, it is in the *STANDARDS*) is just as damaging as any detailed “alternatives to evolution” spelled out clearly in state standards. It is not workable if your goal is a public educated in biology. Creationism, under any name, wipes out a true understanding of the nature of science.

Although the creationists are trying to convince the press it ain’t so, the new draft of Ohio’s science standards greatly strengthens the teaching of evolution and does not promote creationism, ID or any other sectarian agenda. Teaching religion masquerading as science was confirmed as illegal under the 1968 and 1987 Supreme Court decisions and is still illegal in Ohio. Please make plans to attend your local school board meeting to make sure they understand this.

[…]

“We won big time here. The creationists have lost. There is more evolution in the standards now than there would have been had they kept their mouths shut,” said Patricia Princehouse, a philosophy professor at Case Western Reserve University and founder of Ohio Citizens for Science, a pro-evolution group.

(Ohio Citizens for Science response and AP report of Ohio science standards adoption)

Re: Comment #62384 Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 11, 2005

We were shnuckered along with everyone else. A year after those hopeful pronouncements after a long and tiring fight, the standards compromise proved to be just language to allow “evidence against evolution”, ie. creationism. Pointing out that good work was done by good people to get excellent evolution education in there too is just saying that an equal time compromise is marginally acceptable. Perhaps it was the best compromise that could be obtained, and perhaps our allies did need political cover in order to help, but the lesson to come away with from the bruising battle over the Ohio state standards is certainly not that an equal time compromise is inevitable. I think Dr. Princehouse might agree with me, in large or in part. The argument has been made, and I know you’ve seen it too Dr. Elsberry, that we’d be in a better position now if we had just let them hang themselves.

There are lessons to be learned here, but not the one I seem to be seeing expressed in this forum, and in the Fordham report. Dr. Princehouse is the kind of person who can admit a mistake. Is Dr. Gross?

Mr. Mike:  if you are going to quote people at length, at least have the courtesy to distinguish the quotes from your own additions using the <quote author=”SumBuddy”> </quote;> construct.

OK, so Michigan got a ‘D’, and that’s the state where my son is in school. This isn’t the important part of the evaluation by any stretch. The important part is that they predict that there will be holes in his education. My son is only in 3rd grade. I have time to examine the future and make sure he gets grounding where the state may miss.

My wife and I have taken a first step. My son is enrolled in a charter school (still state funding, with all that this means), but my son is going to a school with students whose parents had the will and compentence to fill out an application. They may just care enough to help the school with their children’s education. The Montessori approach seems to be a good fit for my child as well.

If I were an educator of many (rather than just one), rather than take offense at how my state’s education system is below average, I’d take a look at where to go from here.

Go ahead. Believe it if you want to. In America, every state’s educational system is above average.

the top of the fold article on the front page of the charleston SC Post and Courier newspaper reports that the state Education and Oversight Committee voted 8 to 7 this week to pull it standards for high school biology classes in order to study whether ID should be taught as an alternative to evolution. i guess there goes our “A” grade. it simply boggles the mind that something that has been proven over and over again to be unscientific can be foisted on the american people as science.

all the debunking in the world seems to have no effect on the willfully ignorant.

i guess isaac asimov was absolutely right: there is no belief, no matter how foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death

Re: Comment #62791 Posted by MrMalo on December 14, 2005

If you watch the video at http://www.wistv.com/ , “Jack Kuenzie on proposed changes in S. C. biology teaching methods”, you get the distinct impression that the same game plan the DI orchastrated with success in Ohio is being used in SC: “critical analysis”, “evidence against evolution”, “No! there is no intelligent design here!”, etc. The same critical analysis plan that got Ohio the highest marks for evolution education in Paul Gross’ Fordham report. And yes, its in the *STANDARDS*.

Re: Re: Comment #62791 Posted by MrMalo on December 14, 2005

If the SC creationists continue with the DI game plan, and even if they are successful, Paul Gross might dock SC with a couple “seriousness” points, but they’ll likely retain their high score for evolution teaching, if past behavior is any indicator. Go figure.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on December 7, 2005 3:07 PM.

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