In the News: The Cobb County School Board and Evolution in the Classroom
On Thursday, September 26, 2002, the Cobb County (Georgia) school board unanimously adopted a policy that would allow teachers to discuss alternative scientific views of origins. Board chairman Curt Johnston made it clear to those in attendance that the decision was not a matter of bringing religion into the classroom. In a 1987 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from requiring the teaching of creationism in public schools. Thus, in a carefully worded six-paragraph statement, Johnston said: “We expect teachers to continue to teach the theory of evolution. We do not expect teachers to teach creationism.” The new policy, however, does open the door to alternative views regarding the origin and development of life, and also promotes discussion in the classroom—something practically unheard of before now. The exact wording of the policy is as follows:
The Cobb County School District believes that discussion of disputed views of academic subjects is a necessary element of providing a balanced education, including the study of the origin of the species. This subject remains an area of intense interest, research, and discussion among scholars. As a result, the study of this subject shall be handled in accordance with this policy and with objectivity and good judgment on the part of teachers, taking into account the age and maturity level of their students. The purpose of this policy is to foster critical thinking among students, to allow academic freedom consistent with legal requirements, to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity of opinion, and to ensure a posture of neutrality toward religion.
With these objectives in mind, why is it that evolutionists object to this ruling? Why did the president of the National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Alberts, mail “A Request to Help Counter the Cobb County, Ga., School Board’s Actions on the Teaching of Evolution in Public Schools”? Why did biology professors at several universities in Georgia, as well as the National Science Teachers Association, inform the Cobb County school board that it would be a serious mistake to approve such a resolution. Why are these individuals so enraged over a policy that fosters critical thinking and promotes academic freedom? Why? Maybe it’s because they realize that their cherished theory of evolution eventually will be discarded by students who are allowed to study all of the scientific evidence. Perhaps they know all too well that an “alternative view” fits the available evidence better than their godless, humanistic, atheistic theory of evolution.