Cobb County Disclaimer Appeal

An Atlanta Blogger, The Sanity Inspector, attended the appeal of the Cobb County Case today and has posted his notes of the hearing: “ Cobb County Evolution Stickers Have Their Day In Court.”

During the hearing the judges criticized the plaintiffs for errors in their brief. Judge Carnes claimed that Marjorie Rodger’s petition didn’t occur until after the stickers were enacted, and the ACLU’s attorney was not prepared for this spin.

Looking at the archives of the AJC, we have confirmed that Judge Carnes is wrong, the Cobb County School Board was clearly aware of the petition before they enacted the disclaimer:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

March 29, 2002 Friday, Home Edition

SECTION: Metro News; Pg. 1F

LENGTH: 305 words

HEADLINE: New Cobb textbooks teach evolution theory



BODY: Cobb County parents who are angered by an emphasis on evolution in new science textbooks were told Thursday the district will tell students it is a scientific theory, not fact.

The school board rejected appeals by about 30 parents who complained the science books give too much weight to evolution and natural selection. The board approved a nearly $8 million adoption of new science, health and physical education textbooks.

“God created Earth and man in his image,” said Patricia Fuller. “Leave this garbage out of the textbooks. I don’t want anybody taking care of me in a nursing home some day to think I came from a monkey.”

Parent Heidi Isom challenged the accuracy of the texts. “I do not want to spend $7 million on a set of textbooks that are incomplete and shaded.” Other critics included Philip Self, a pastor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in east Cobb.

No one spoke in favor of the updated texts.

Board members said a note will be inserted in each book to caution students that evolution is only a theory. Attorneys will be consulted to word the notes.

The new textbooks were selected by committees of teachers, working in consultation with the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences. The books will be distributed in August.

The books will not change how biology or life sciences are taught in Cobb, said Superintendent Joe Redden.

Creationism cannot be taught in public classrooms, he said. “It’s against the law.”

Marjorie Rogers, whose child attends Pine Mountain Middle School, told the board she had collected petitions signed by 2,300 people who are dissatisfied with science texts that espouse “Darwinism, unchallenged.”

“It is unconstitutional to teach only evolution,” she said. “The school board must allow the teaching of both theories of origin.”

LOAD-DATE: March 29, 2002


I think that I need to detail the board’s main argument in the appeal, since it may get little press. The board’s lawyers are arguing that, since Cobb County used to not teach evolution at all, the current textbooks+disclaimer policy is actually a step up from their previous standards. Therefore, they actually voted to improve education regardless of whether the disclaimer corrupts biology education or not.