The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Fordham Foundation’

Evolution Banned from a Band Shirt in Sedalia, Missouri?

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 1, 2009

It seems that this story has been getting a lot of attention, so I wanted to mention my thoughts about it here.  Apparently, the band director designed (intelligently?) some shirts depicting the “evolution of a trumpet player” which didn’t sit too well with some creationist parents in the district…

**Aside: Dr. Steve Novella has a very interesting take on this situation over at the Skeptiblog.  Check it out!!!

That’s it… that’s the shirt that is “too controversial” for some overly uptight parents to have their kids wear?!  You’ve got to be kidding me.  As the article states:

Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, Band Director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.” The playlist of songs the band is slated to perform revolve around the theme “Brass Evolutions.”

The band debuted the T-shirts when it marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. Summers said he was surprised when he received a direct complaint after the parade. While the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.

Oh please, I cannot even begin to describe how inane all this is… so I’d better get started on it.  After venting my spleen about the stupidity of the situation, and the general spinelessness with which the school administration handled it, I shall pass along a constructive solution to this mess [hat tip to Dr. Kiki Sanford at The Bird’s Brain blog 😀 ]

Read the rest of this entry »

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Evolution in U.S. Public Schools: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 17, 2009

I got an update about the current state of the teaching of evolution in U.S. public schools recently.  It contains both good news and bad news, but mostly good news.  And I wanted to share it with you…

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EVOLVING STANDARDS

How is evolution faring in state science education standards? NCSE’s Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates pored over the latest standards in all fifty states. In a new study forthcoming in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, they report, “The treatment of biological
evolution in state science standards has improved dramatically over the last ten years.” Forty states received satisfactory grades for the treatment of evolution in their state science standards in Mead and Mates’s study, as opposed to only thirty-one in Lawrence S. Lerner’s 2000 study Good Science, Bad Science, conducted for the Fordham
Foundation.

But the news is not all rosy. Five states — Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia — received the grade of F, and a further six states — Alaska, Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming — receive the grade of D. Moreover, the “treatment of human evolution is abysmal,” Mead and Mates lament, with only seven states (and the District of Columbia) providing a comprehensive treatment. Many states “do not reference the Big Bang as the current scientific theory for the origin of the universe,” they add, and only 17 states provide a comprehensive treatment of the connections among biological, geological, and cosmological systems.

Mead and Mates also consider a few states that furnish “excellent examples of the successes and failures of the standards-setting process.” The grades for Florida and Kansas have vaulted from F to A, although not without controversy: “the Kansas standards have seesawed between abysmal and excellent no fewer than four times in the last decade.” In Louisiana, however, the passage of the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act undermined the treatment of evolution in the standards, which now receive the grade of F. And in Texas, the state board of education’s revisions in March 2009 served to undermine the treatment of evolution in the standards to the point where they, too, receive a failing grade.

In a companion article introducing the study, NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott commented, “On the basis of Mead and Matesís results, there is reason to be pleased by the progress over the last ten years in the inclusion of evolution in state science education
standards. That the treatment of evolution is inadequate in almost one in five states still suggests that there is considerable room for improvement, but we should be optimistic that teachers, scientists, and others who care about science education will continue — as science standards continue to be periodically revised — to work for the appropriate inclusion of evolution in state science education standards.”

For Mead and Mates’s article, visit:
http://www.springer link.com/ content/9u061016 2rn51432/ fulltext. html

For Lerner’s study, visit:
http://www.fordhamf oundation. org/detail/ news.cfm? news_id=42

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