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Austin Cline

Kentucky GOP Outrage: Students Have to Learn Things

By August 21, 2012

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Kentucky has a problem with education standards: the Republican Party in Kentucky is in denial about basic science while colleges around the country actually care about basic science. Thus standards which require students to know about evolutionary theory are causing Kentucky Republicans to have a fit.

GOP Eduction Policy
GOP Eduction Policy
Photo: Orlando/Getty

In 2009 the Kentucky legislature wisely decided to tie the state's tests to national education standards. Now they are regretting that because they are learning that biological evolution is a part of national standards for science education. Colleges actually care about whether high school students are properly educated. Imagine that!

If the Kentucky GOP had their way, it seems, high school students wouldn't learn anything about evolutionary theory (and perhaps any modern science at all) but they would be well-versed in the Bible and fundamentalist interpretations of biblical stories. That's what passes for a "good education" among many conservative Christians these days.

"I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution," Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Tuesday in an interview. ...

Givens said he and other legislators have been contacted by a number of educators with concerns about Kentucky's proposed new science standards, which are tied to ACT testing and are scheduled to be adopted this fall.

"I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation," Givens said. "We're simply saying to the ACT people we don't want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students' ability to do critical thinking."

Givens said he asked the ACT representatives about possibly returning to a test personalized for Kentucky, but he was told that option was very expensive and time-consuming. ...

Another committee member, Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville, said he had a problem with evolution being an important part of biology standards. "The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science -- Darwin made it up," Waide said. "My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny."

Source: Kansas City Star

The lack of basic scientific knowledge is sad, but not surprising. The levels of denial are also sad, but again not surprising. All of this is pretty common for conservative Christians and conservative Republicans in America today. We simply can't expect any better engagement with the real world from people like this.

What's really interesting and different in this story is the revelation that the Kentucky GOP would institute special state standards and state tests if it weren't so expensive. This tells us something about the "values" they are pretending to hold dear.

Remember, for them the conflict between evolution and creationism is fundamentally one about values because teaching evolution teaches the "wrong" values. So if they are unwilling to spend more money in order to avoid teaching evolution, then they are unwilling to spend more money in order to protect students from what they have openly proclaimed to be an evil, godless, and even satanic ideology (or religion).

So basically, we have Christians saying "evolution is an evil, anti-Christian, satanic, false religion that damages students... but it's cheaper to keep teaching it than to ditch it so we'll keep it in schools." What does this say about them?

August 22, 2012 at 12:04 am
(1) Victoria says:

You have had a few articles recently about evolution/creationism. I cannot remember if I was even taught evolution in high school or earlier. Might have, I just do not remember. It was over 40 years ago. I remember that I took cellular biology and chemisty in my sophmore and junior years in high school. I did grow up in the East Bay Area of CA. I know there was never any religion in my public schooling at all.

I did take some Mormon ‘lessons’ and went to their Sunday school a couple of times. I already knew that the earth was billions (or was it millions that i read about) of years old. I did read about Louis Leakey in articles of the day. Anyway, in the Sunday school class they didn’t mention creationism, but they did explain that the earth was older than 6000 years. They explained it as God’s years are not in the same timeframe as our years. Something like that.

August 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm
(2) JTL says:

I feel there is something far more sinister at work behind this denial of scientific fact. Stalinist Russia comes to mind…

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