There was an article (Evolution’s Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom) in the New York Times online edition on June 29 about a middle school teacher by the name of Pat New. She stood alone in her small north Georgia school district of Lumpkin County, which is located in the mountains, and decided not to give into parental and administrative pressures questioning why she was teaching evolution in her 7th grade life science class. Hopefully, the mountains gave her some peace.
One day a parent would write emails and question why she was wasting time on evolution when more factual stuff could be taught. Her principal on one occassion asked her if she believed every thing in the Bible. She said she felt uncomfortable about him asking that question. Given the fact that she was teaching in a very small North Georgia town, it was not unusual that such a question would be asked. But by her principal?
Even her curriculum director wondered why she was spending so much time on evoloution. Even after explaining that evolution the central concept in modern biology, and was “taught” in each chapter, the administrator sighed, and just didn’t get it.
Even though I’ve questioned Standards-Based Teaching, and the over-emphasis on testing, Ms. New was able to inform her administrators and parents that she was simply “following the state standards. They backed off. Fortunately for Ms. New, Kathy Cox, the Georgia Superintendent of Education didn’t get her way when she wanted to removed evolution from the state curriculum, but was over-ruled by national and state organizations, and even the governor and a former president.
The teaching of evolution in the science curriculum has been a recurring issue in school districts and states across the USA ever since the 1925 trial of John T. Scopes, who was accused of breaking a Tennesee state law against teaching evolution. You might want to refer to Chapter 3 of The Art of Teaching Science, which explores the history of science education.
Teachers such as Pat New are courageous. They respect their students, and feel that they have a responsibility to be truthful about the nature of science, and science teaching, and not be influenced by dogma.