Evolution may favor religious diversity, but the tail does not wag the fish.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Teaching Intelligent Design as an Elective

California Parents File Suit Over Origins of Life Course
[New York Times]:

The school district, with 1,425 students, serves several towns in a mountain area where many students are home schooled. The special education teacher, who is married to the pastor of the local Assemblies of God church, amended her syllabus and the course title, from Philosophy of Intelligent Design to Philosophy of Design after parents complained. The course was approved by the trustees in a 3-to-2 vote, despite testimony from science and math teachers that it would undermine the science curriculum. The parents who brought the lawsuit said 13 students were enrolled in the class.
Kitty Jo Nelson, a trustee, said the community was split.
"If we had to describe this in one word," Ms. Nelson said, "it would be controversial'."
It is unclear to me from the details of this article whether the parents bringing the case, represented by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have a strong case. On the one hand, there is nothing unconstitutional about teaching Intelligent Design in this format. However, it does not appear that the curriculum for this class is very good. It is heavy on the use of the videotaped format "produced or distributed by religious organizations [that] assume a pro-creationist, anti-evolution stance." Special speakers included in the syllabus to represent evolution appear to either have declined the invitation or are simply dead.

As in the previous cases where this issue has entered into political and legal terrain, the question is not whether Intelligent Design is true or not, nor is it whether belief is being persecuted. The issue is one of education and whether the students who are subject to idealogues are being well served.


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