Tuesday, February 27, 2007

 

Good News, Bad News


There's not much more to say about this:
BOISE, IDAHO -- Members of the Idaho Science Teachers Association have approved an official position against teaching intelligent design in Idaho's public schools.

Rick Alm is the president of the ISTA's board and a science teacher at Bonneville High School. He says teachers in public schools are charged with teaching methodology that's been approved by the scientific community.
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He also says the teachers' group isn't taking a position against teaching religion. But he says under the law, religion has its place, and it's not in the science classroom.
On the other hand:
Idaho state standards contain no mention of intelligent design. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he'll leave it up to local school districts to decide whether or not to teach it.
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Comments:
Since when does the state teacher's association get to determine curriculum? At least here in Missouri, that's the local board of education's job. I guess everyone's entitled to their opinion, though.

Nick Kasoff
The Thug Report
 
Mr. Thug:

Please read the story before you go off on your ranting. The statement is the official position of the Idaho Science Teachers Association, which they have every right to publish.

The statement says nothing about determining curriculum.

Of course the local board sets the science curriculum. They also get to defend it against Constitutional challenges - and, hopefully, pay out all the legal fees if it fails the test.
 
There's no actual requirement that curricula be set by local boards and considerable arguments against it. In a global economy, with the internet and all our instant communication, there's no reason that a student in Missouri should be learning anything different than one in New York. They presently compete directly against each other in many ways and will do so even more in the future.

Be that as it may, any local board that doesn't listen to what the professionals have to say about what ought be taught should be removed as incompetent before it does the kind of damage to the district and the students the Dover board did.
 
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he'll leave it up to local school districts to decide whether or not to teach it.

Aw hell... I was wondering when the ID thing would crop up here, considering the U of I has a DI fellow on the faculty and also considering the rather prominent religious population in the state. I really hope the districts are smart enough to shy away from taking an anti-science stance, but somehow I think we'll have ourselves a fight in the near future.
 
JP wrote: There's no actual requirement that curricula be set by local boards and considerable arguments against it.

Actually, it is a well established legal principle that local school boards or districts hold a great deal of authority over the curricula in their schools - within broad guidelines. Curriculum includes a lot more than basic content. It extends to the teaching methods that are to be employed, the books and other educational tools to be used, and the level of material to be presented.

We tend to get wrapped around the situations where a few highly publicized school boards make silly decisions about science. But we shouldn't forget that there is a lot more going on in education, and that most local boards do a pretty good job most of the time.

IMHO, local control is a good thing. Local people know their local conditions better than some Federal or state bureaucrat.

Getting rid of local boards because of a few bad apples would be overreaction.
 
I'm not disputing that local control is how we have historically done it in the U.S. but there is no legal or Constitutional requirement that it remain so and, at least in the area of curriculum content, good arguments for national standards. Of course that comes with its own set of problems and I won't present it as a panacea in any sense of the word. Nor am I saying that local boards should be done away with; just that curricula may not be an area where regional or local differences, if they really exist anymore, should control what children are asked to learn.

I hear a lot about "local conditions" but I'm not sure quite what it means when it comes to the range of courses that are taught.
 
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