February 2, 2010

Anti-evolutionists in Wisconsin

I figure I should lay a little love back on PZ Myers, since he delivered about eleventy-thousand new visitors to this blog yesterday. The following originates with Andrew J. Petto, a senior lecturer in biology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (me old alma mater):
This has been brewing in West Bend for some time. About 4-5 years ago there were parents petitioning the school board for a review of the curriculum, because there was too much evolution. They recommended a biology book by Merrill [Publishing] whose main distinction was its "least unfavorable" rating by the Institute for Creation Research because it said the least about evolution. When Laurie and I reviewed textbooks for our article "Why Teach Evolution," the Merrill text scored a 0 (out of 40) for inclusion of contemporary thinking about 10 concepts in evolutionary science (the average was about 8 and the best books close to 18 — books got a 1 for a mention and a 4 for a detailed explanation).

The science department and administration were firm and united in opposition; the school board stood its ground, despite a long, rambling, and poorly informed presentation by David Menton (who was in town on an [Answers in Genesis] junket). Even after the loss, the parents kept coming to school and sitting in on classes, critiquing the lessons. Still, the school held firm; evolution is one of the fundamental themes in the WI State standards, which means that it is to be woven into ALL life sciences lessons: it is not a separate, pull-out unit (a fact that has confused critics and, IMHO, unjustly condemned WI's treatment of evolution).

So, this is just another episode in the continuing saga of anti-evolutionism in Wisconsin. And it is everywhere!

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