From a paper at Perspectives in Science (October 15, 2016):
Science Standards: The foundation of evolution education in the United
Abstract: Science standards and textbooks have a huge impact on the manner in which evolution is taught in American classrooms. Standards dictate how much time and what points have to be dedicated to the subject in order to prepare students for state-wide assessments, while the textbooks will largely determine how the subject is presented in the classroom. In the United States both standards and textbooks are determined at the state-level through a political process. Currently there is a tremendous amount of pressure arising from anti-evolutionists in the United States to weaken or omit the teaching of evolution despite recommendations from central institutions such as the National Academy of Science. Results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed that not only are American students performing below average, but also that their performance is declining as they scored worse in 2012 than they did in 2010. Interestingly PISA also found that the internal variation within a country is often greater than between countries with a variation of up to 300 points, which is equivalent to seven years of education pointing to the extreme heterogeneous quality of education within a country (OECD, 2012). An implementation of strong standards would not only help to increase the average performance of American students but could also alleviate the vast discrepancy between the highest and lowest scoring groups of American students. Although the Next Generation Science Standards have been in existence since 2013 and A Framework for K-12 Science Education has been available to the public since 2011 many American states still continue to create their own standards that, according to the Fordham study, are well below par (Lerner et al., 2012). Due to the political nature of the adoption procedure of standards and textbooks, there are many opportunities for interested individuals to get involved in the process of improving these fundamental elements of science education.
This opportunity to affect statewide science standards has in fact become a relatively new target for Darwin doubters; one that has a broader impact than local school-board decisions as Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education describes, “Savvy creationists are focusing their efforts on this relatively new arena ( Wallis, 2005, p.55).” And they are succeeding − the Fordham Institute published a report in 2012 about state science standards in the United States and found that the most important weakness in the science standards is how evolution is undermined and presented as a weak scientific theory in many states. They further found that although some states are teaching evolution better than they did in the past, the increasing pressure from anti-evolution groups continues to pose a serious threat to science standards in the United States (Lerner et al., 2012). This attempt to weaken the teaching of evolution by trying to emphasize the weaknesses and gaps in evolution is in essence the crux of the intelligent design movement (Wallis, 2005). For anyone who believes that intelligent design is less harmful to science education than its older cousin, creationism, must understand that intelligent design may be the most potent and dangerous version of creationism yet and it is a major threat to the scientific education of American students ( Blancke, 2014 and Forrest, 2007). This threat to science education is particularly relevant in the United States, since studies have shown that 69% of American students failed to meet the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks for science (ACT, 2012).
While the NGSS has provided states with support to create superior science standards, the Discovery Institute, a think-tank in Seattle that supports the promotion of intelligent design, is providing materials for individuals to use in local forums to accomplish the exact opposite. These documents that the Discovery Institute provides are scientifically abstruse, jargon-heavy documents that make it hard for the average citizen to follow but since the people who make up the decision committees tend to be small and from non-science backgrounds, this is an optimal place to use smoke and mirrors to affect political decisions (Basel et al., 2013, Wallis, 2005 and Williams, 2015). – Paper. (public access) Dip. Biol. Elizabeth Watts a, (Ph.D. candidate in the Research Group Didactics of Biology at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena), Doz. Dr.
Georgy S. Levit b, , Dr. Uwe Hoßfeld a, b, (Prof.)More.
These people mostly seem to be from out of town (= Europe and Russia), which is sure to get them classed as experts in education around here.
Actually, from a Canadian perspective, most of the problems that cause the United States to lag significantly behind Canada in education performance come from the relentless involvement of the U.S. federal government in the school systems.
In Canada, for constitutional reasons, public school systems are almost entirely a provincial responsibility. In a country of maybe 35 million people in 10 provinces and three territories, edu-pork barrels just don’t proliferate the way they do in the States.
Incompetence, insanity, and criminality are easier to address in a smaller system, provided the will is there. It does not take $100 million dollars and 50 legal cases to spot a problem and fix it.
But don’t expect ‘crat boys to warm to that approach any time soon. They can put of the day of reckoning by promoting exotic claims such as that ID is to blame.
See also: ID as terrorism? A friend sends this list of freakouts by Darwin’s followers some years ago, about the dangers the ID community poses: Can readers come up with more of this stuff? The Coffee Room here is thinking of starting a Mental Health Fund for Darwin’s followers.
Bill Dembski: It Takes Ganas: Jaime Escalante’s secret to inspired learning (How bureaucracy destroyed gifted math teacher’s highly rated program. But what else is new?)
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