From Maria Gallucci at Mashable:
Florida residents can now challenge how climate change, evolution are taught in school
Florida’s statute is one of 13 measures proposed this year that the National Council for Science Education considers to be “anti-science,” the Washington Post recently noted.
Alabama and Indiana, for instance, both adopted non-binding resolutions to promote the “academic freedom” of science teachers in the state’s public schools. Educators are encouraged to “teach the controversy” around “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
Legislators and parents aren’t the only ones putting pressure on public school teachers. More.
Reading material like this prompts some reflections:
Parents are legally required to send their children to a public school if they can make no better arrangements. The children are legally required to sit there, usually between the ages of 8 and 16. Taxpayers are legally required to fund the system, no matter how bad it is. Traditionally, the system has been run by a collection of interest groups, including teachers’ unions, textbook author and publishers, and paid school trustees. Public input was limited, and consisted mainly of conflicts between pressure groups, including various End of Science! rent-a-riots and their opponents of whatever stripe.
The entire system is now largely soft corruption, vegetation, mediocrity, and the general failure of Very Cool ideas to help those most in need… The main victims are vulnerable kids. The less vulnerable kids can more easily find alternatives.
The current compulsory education system was developed in the mid-nineteenth-century to address the problem of too many illiterates in an increasingly industrial society. One can operate a horse without reading a manual but in a machine age, we needed people who could read and add. The resulting system is not at all suited to the digital age.
It has come to be dominated by administrations whose best bet is churning out the same old-same old. So along come parents and taxpayers who want (shock!) some input.
Take, for example, from the story quoted above: “Educators are encouraged to “teach the controversy” around “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
There are massive controversies around all these areas. In the future, there will be many more such controversies in many areas. Helping students navigate today means, among other things, teaching them to examine opposing opinions by learning to ask the right questions. It does not mean teaching them to listlessly accept whatever is supposed to be the consensus (although one always needs to know that).
The best argument for input and transparency is the fright some express at the idea.
Added: For one thing, very few people in the age of the handheld would think literacy and numeracy don’t matter. It will likely be possible soon to get most education online, with local support.
Of course some oversight is needed (!) but not the stuff we are seeing today, which is a relic of bygone needs.
For example, one can require that the student be familiar with the claims of Darwinian evolution without engaging in efforts to make her believe it.
See also: Breaking: Texas science standards survive the mother of all gravy bombs