Where did those anti-evolution resolutions come from?

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Brandon Haught at Florida Citizens for Science reports on the likely source of the anti-evolution resolutions.

A lengthy article in the Florida Baptist Witness doesn’t come right out and say it, but the source of the anti-evolution resolutions seems to be:

Kendall [Kim Kendall, a leading activist opposing the standards and a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville] agreed with the idea of academic freedom in the classroom, she told the Witness in a later e-mail.

According to Kendall, the school districts in St. Johns, Baker and Taylor counties have composed resolutions against the proposed approach to teaching evolution. The resolutions request that the SBOE maintain academic freedom and integrity in the classrooms.

“After observing the framers and writers as they ‘refreshed’ the standards, we were disappointed to say the least,” Kendall told the Witness via email. “But we feel hopeful with our 7-member SBOE which will be making the final decision.”

Kendall said the president overseeing the school districts plans to send a copy of the resolution to further awareness in other districts and provide a template for them to use should they choose to do so.

Acknowledging that other districts may not follow suit, Kendall said she urges residents of other counties to encourage their school boards to form their own resolutions.

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From the article —

“Beverly Slough, a member of the St. Johns County school board and president-elect of the Florida School Boards Association”

—-and —-

“According to Kendall, the school districts in St. Johns, Baker and Taylor counties have composed resolutions against the proposed approach to teaching evolution. The resolutions request that the SBOE maintain academic freedom and integrity in the classrooms.”

I’m fairly certain that this is a violation of Florida’s SUNSHINE LAW. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes[…]6/ch0286.htm

Even if Kendall were completely sincere and on the level, what the hell is “academic freedom in the classroom” supposed to mean?

Classrooms aren’t about academic freedom - that’s what University research positions are for. High school classrooms are about learning the basics so that students have the tools and understanding to be able to move on to greater detail and deeper understanding in the future.

Also, high schools are about providing an overview (illustrated by suitable examples) so that, if students do not pursue the subject in greater detail, they at least know some background.

Kendall is “on the level”. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She is an activist with political clout, but doesn’t work for anyone.

It’s the School Board officials -( esp. B.S.- who is on the St. Johns County SB and ALSO the Pres. Elect of the state SB Assoc.)- of Clay, Baker, and St. Johns that I think are in violation of the law. Does anyone else read the article the same way I do? Like the SB officials had a meeting to discuss what this resolution was going to say? THAT’S what would be illegal. Then of course B.S. can use her position to send out this resolution to all of the other SB’s in the state.

“The resolutions request that the SBOE maintain academic freedom and integrity in the classrooms.”

As Nigel points out, high school classrooms are not primarily about “academic freedom”. They are however primarily about “academic integrity”. Let these yahoos pass all the resolutions about academic freedom they want, but as long as they have to maintain academic integrity everything will be fine. I agree, they should have the freedom to maintain academic integrity but they should not have the freedom to do away with integrity.

Of course the real problem is that the same yahoos will be the ones deciding what constitutes academic freedom and academic integrity. Academic freedom does not include the right of a high school teacher to arbitrarily redefine science or the right to present religious ideas as science. It does not include the right to ignore all of the findings of science either. That isn’t freedom, it’s irresponsible and definately shows a lack of academic integrity. Having the academic freedom to ask interesting scientific questions is not equivalent to having the freedom to ignore the real answers to those questions, no matter how inconvenient those answers might be.

David Stanton Wrote:

Having the academic freedom to ask interesting scientific questions is not equivalent to having the freedom to ignore the real answers to those questions, no matter how inconvenient those answers might be.

Well put, sir.

Can you explain to us what part of the Sunshine law was violated by what actions?

Stacy S. :

Kendall is “on the level”. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She is an activist with political clout, but doesn’t work for anyone.

It’s the School Board officials -( esp. B.S.- who is on the St. Johns County SB and ALSO the Pres. Elect of the state SB Assoc.)- of Clay, Baker, and St. Johns that I think are in violation of the law. Does anyone else read the article the same way I do? Like the SB officials had a meeting to discuss what this resolution was going to say? THAT’S what would be illegal. Then of course B.S. can use her position to send out this resolution to all of the other SB’s in the state.

I’ll do my best. Basically the Sunshine Law states that public officials can’t have private meetings with each other. They have to be publicized weeks in advance and have agendas followed, etc… (I think this is specific to Florida) I put the link to the statute in my first post on this thread.

I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure that if we can prove that these SB members were meeting behind closed doors - it was illegal. Apparently there is the same “typo” in 3 of the resolutions.

Remember that Bev S. is the Pres. elect for the STATE school board assoc. and she is also a SB member in St. Johns County. St. Johns County is where Kim K. is from too. Same district as a matter of fact. But like I said before - she is simply an activist.

Also, Brandon Haught’s idea that Kendall is the source of the resolutions has been confirmed.

(b) Any person who is a member of a board or commission or of any state agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision who knowingly violates the provisions of this section by attending a meeting not held in accordance with the provisions hereof is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

1) All meetings of any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, except as otherwise provided in the Constitution, at which official acts are to be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, and no resolution, rule, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such meeting. The board or commission must provide reasonable notice of all such meetings.

(2) The minutes of a meeting of any such board or commission of any such state agency or authority shall be promptly recorded, and such records shall be open to public inspection. The circuit courts of this state shall have jurisdiction to issue injunctions to enforce the purposes of this section upon application by any citizen of this state.

See what they are saying at Uncommon Descent. They can’t tell a satirical straw man built by IDers from real “Darwinists”. Look quickly, before they sweep their foolishness under the rug.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]-2/#comments

By the way, don’t bother to comment there; they block even respectfully worded dissenting opinions. They should rename the site “Uncommon Dissent”. I guess they are afraid to “teach the controversy”. Hypocrites.

I’m sure they will find a way out of this trap. The same way these Christian hipocrites always do…by lying.

By the way, no matter how much they try to put lipstick on this anti-evolution pig, it still comes down to religious opposition. Which the courts have ruled is inpermissible.

If any of you in Florida are reading this, here’s an idea for you: stop lying to judges. It isn’t just dishonest, it is also a crime.

If any of you in Florida are reading this, here’s an idea for you: stop lying to judges. It isn’t just dishonest, it is also a crime.

It’s not the crime that gets these guys, it is the coverup.

Yes, perjury and obstruction of justice are felonies.

What’s that sound in the distance? Sounds like a paper shredder. CLUNK. Looks like a hard drive just hit the bottom of a dumpster.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so mind numbingly routine.

Raven said: “What’s that sound in the distance? Sounds like a paper shredder. CLUNK. Looks like a hard drive just hit the bottom of a dumpster.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so mind numbingly routine.”

That’s OK - I’m a pack rat. I keep all of my e mails, newspaper articles, etc… I have lots and lots of info. Here’s a sample of one that was forwarded to me:

Guess who wrote it??!!

“…URGENT! Email now!

The Dept. of Education for the entire state of Florida is considering the following for all our public schools:

Teaching Evolution as the Fundamental Core for our existence No more teaching Evolution as only a theory – but instead THE fundamental concept No other reasons for existence (like the truth of Creation) will be applied to the teacher’s standards Evolution Benchmarks and FCAT questions will soon appear in schools and testing…”

gary Wrote:

If any of you in Florida are reading this, here’s an idea for you: stop lying to judges. It isn’t just dishonest, it is also a crime.

And for those of you who aren’t hopeless Straussians or just plain snake oil salesmen whose primary religion is psudoscience, remember that, even if you get away with it now, you have to answer to a higher authority later.

Presumably, perjury comes under the heading of “bearing false witness against thy neighbor.”

Nigel writes,

“Classrooms aren’t about academic freedom - that’s what University research positions are for. High school classrooms are about learning the basics so that students have the tools and understanding to be able to move on to greater detail and deeper understanding in the future.”

Although the Creationism-equals-freedom folks are lying—they have no real interest in academic freedom, as the restrictive policies in schools where they call the shots indicates—I find Nigel’s remark chilling. The only people who are to have academic freedom are apparently those in “University research positions.” This rules out high-school students, high-school teachers, people who graduate from high school but don’t go to college, college students, graduate students, and teaching professors—about, oh, 99.999% of the human race and most of those even in academia. The rest of us are, apparently, academically free only to receive with interest and admiration, and to parrot, the “greater detail and deeper understanding” provided by those in University research positions, who are the only people endowed with “academic freedom”—whatever that is. Is it the unconditional liberty to teach any blither whatever? Do even those in University research positions have that?

I admit that I don’t know exactly what academic freedom is, apart from any other kind of freedom. I do put great store by freedom as such. That includes intellectual freedom, of which, presumably, academic freedom is a subdomain. All freedom is real only within constraints imposed by responsibility and by the freedoms of others—a teacher hired to teach science is not “free” to dance naked before their classes or teach astrology and Feng Shui, and if they insist on doing so the people who hired them are free to fire them—but any freedom that begins and ends at the top, with University Research Positions, sounds like a nonexistent one to me.

Science teaching that consists of ramming skills and facts into young ears briefly compelled to shed their iPod earbuds is dead science teaching. I’ve never learned any science worth knowing, from grade school on, until I’ve seen the truth of it myself. Good science teachers show their students how to perceive the validity of science: they don’t just cram in “the basics” so that they can _really_ learn—“in the future.” If, that is, there is any future—if they do go on to higher schooling. Oh, you can cram in basics with no doubts allowed: sure. But you won’t get scientists that way. You won’t even get science-literate free citizens that way. At very best, you’ll get pseudoeducated factoid memorizers trained to be Competitive in the Global Job Marketplace. One learns the scientific attitude from the get-go or one learns intellectual passivity, but not both.

I don’t know what set of rules, if any, could in all cases preserve intellectual/academic freedom in high-school classrooms—or in any other classrooms, for that matter—while excluding all nonsense from science teaching. Any system that would absolutely control content would entail zero liberty and fail completely in teaching critical thought (you can’t learn skepticism by rote): any system allowing any content whatever would be a chaos. Well, if perfection is unattainable, that is neither new nor a reason to despair. Rhetorical mis-use of intellectual-freedom claims by Creationists is certainly no reason to ditch the idea that intellectual freedom is essential to science from the ground up.

The original concept of ‘academic freedom’ stems from the medieval universitas, meaning roughly self-governing and free, by charter, from the noble who otherwise governed the locality. In Paris it was just the faculty who ran the university, a concept later taken up by the other European universities. So it appears that ‘academic freedom’ was a corporate concept: roughly speaking, the lectures had to follow the syllabus.

Obviously this has changed over the centuries, especially in Germany where in principle the professor can teach whatever he likes whenever he likes. I know of only one German professor who has taken (serious) advantage of the Leherfreiheit according him under German law.

In American practice, ‘academic freedom’ is closer to the medieval concept of corporate freedom: professors agree upon and then are obligated to teach the curriculum. In the last decades or so this corporate faculty power is eroding in the favor of various standard setting organizations.

However, as best as I can tell, at all times in all locations, school teachers have had quite limited ‘academic freedom’: they must teach the curriculum which is set for them by others.

Larry, I think you may be misinterpreting what I wrote.

Imagine a physics classroom in which, let’s say, a group of 12-year-olds who have yet to learn the first thing about radioactivity decide that it would be a great project to re-create the work of Marie Curie and isolate uranium from pitchblende. If they possessed genuine freedom to pursue whatever caught their academic interest, the teacher could only object by limiting their academic freedom. Of course this example is absurd, but it illustrates the need for students to be guided by someone who already has an extensive education.

Instead, teachers teach what is on the curriculum, or what is in accord with the local standards (in the UK there is a national curriculum, so teachers have arguably less flexibility than in the US). The students, perforce, have no freedom to choose what to learn and what not to learn, except in the most trivial sense (i.e. they can choose to play truant, in the which case they learn nothing from the taxpayer’s expenditure on their behalf).

And I think it is entirely appropriate that high-school students do not choose the topics. Instead, a curriculum or set of standards is created for them, and the topics are introduced in a sequence that (ideally) gradually challenges the students with more and more complex and/oe subtle ideas.

To understand, say, evolutionary theory requires a certain amount of introductory or background knowledge.

It is possible, I guess, to learn about it direct from TOOS without any introductory or background in even some basic facts of biology, but TOOS is written for an educated audience. It pulls no punches in terms of comprehension level. So the student would need to have a very high level of reading comprehension to be able to do this.

Nigel,

Your radioactivity example brought home the fact that “academic freedom” in the strictest sense is something that no one wants any way. In one sense - and sadly I’m one of the few who keeps repeating this - students already have the “academic freedom” to learn how to misrepresent evolution on their own time. Your example reminded me that the “kind” of “academic freedom” that everyone objects to to some extent involves laboratory work. IIRC, anti-evolution activists don’t demand that students test evolution in the lab (unless it’s “designed” to show that “it’s still a fruit fly”). If they did it would scream “do as we say, not as we do,” because, as we all know, they avoid testing their ideas like the plague.

If anything, with respect to hands-on work with potentially hazardous substances, including those that don’t replicate, most people want to restrict “academic freedom” more than ever. A few years ago I saw a new chemistry set and my heart sank. I had 3 in the ’60s, and the way they have changed made me almost say “it’s over, we lost, anti-science won.” But fortunately I’m not alone. To keep my sanity I have this posted outside my cube at work. And I keep current with efforts to combat anti-evolution activism.

Nigel D:

Larry, I think you may be misinterpreting what I wrote.

Imagine a physics classroom in which, let’s say, a group of 12-year-olds who have yet to learn the first thing about radioactivity decide that it would be a great project to re-create the work of Marie Curie and isolate uranium from pitchblende. If they possessed genuine freedom to pursue whatever caught their academic interest, the teacher could only object by limiting their academic freedom. Of course this example is absurd, but it illustrates the need for students to be guided by someone who already has an extensive education.

Would it be too off topic for me to point out that one of the reasons why no one dares to let amateurs or students follow in Marie Curie’s footsteps and isolate uranium from pitchblend in a classroom is that Marie Curie was one of the first persons whose cause of death was (eventually) recognized as “radiation poisoning”?

Frank J: … students already have the “academic freedom” to learn how to misrepresent evolution on their own time.

Of course, you are right. I’m starting to think that you are also right inasmuch as this ought to be emphasised every time anyone cries “academic freedom” in relation to what science is taught.

Your example reminded me that the “kind” of “academic freedom” that everyone objects to to some extent involves laboratory work. IIRC, anti-evolution activists don’t demand that students test evolution in the lab (unless it’s “designed” to show that “it’s still a fruit fly”). If they did it would scream “do as we say, not as we do,” because, as we all know, they avoid testing their ideas like the plague.

Hmmm, more food for thought.

Yes, it does seem that the creos tend to object to people actually finding out for themselves.

If anything, with respect to hands-on work with potentially hazardous substances, including those that don’t replicate, most people want to restrict “academic freedom” more than ever. A few years ago I saw a new chemistry set and my heart sank. I had 3 in the ’60s, and the way they have changed made me almost say “it’s over, we lost, anti-science won.” But fortunately I’m not alone. To keep my sanity I have this posted outside my cube at work. And I keep current with efforts to combat anti-evolution activism.

I’m inclined to agree, to some extent. When I was at school, substances such as benzene had just been abolished from use in school chemistry labs in the UK. This is a good thing, as benzene is a strong carcinogen. When I was a post-grad student, the use of benzene was restricted in university labs (but I did use it in experimetns when I was an undergrad). Similarly for severely toxic compounds such as carbon tetrachloride and KCN. I’ve used Hg(l) also, but its use is no longer tolerated except under unusual circumstances.

However, to restrict access to any exciting chemistry (such as anything that can make a bang - after all, that’s why kids want chemistry sets in the first place, isn’t it?) does defeat the whole purpose of getting kids excited about finding things out for themselves. It’s the litigious culture that requires the blame to be with anyone except the individual who injured themself.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on January 16, 2008 10:43 AM.

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