Here’s an essay by a former teacher who recounts her experiences on the difficulty of teaching evolution.
I taught sixth grade in Texas for three years 2001-2004. During that time, I was absolutely warned to not begin to say the word “evolution” or we would have every preacher in the district, as well as the media, breathing down our necks, and then there would truly be no teaching or learning. Sadly, I needed the position, so I played the “hide the issue and hide the learning” game.
Every time I tell this story, usually at a dinner party, people look at me like I am reliving some ancient past. I remind them that this policy ruled only two years ago – and in their progressive community. Like many issues that are easier to disbelieve than to address, people inevitably choose disbelief.
I have no problem believing her. I’ve heard this same story from innumerable school teachers over the many years I’ve been involved in the fight to protect science education. I’ve heard time and time again from teachers who are intimidated into not teaching evolution at all, just skipping right over that section in the book, or into using euphemisms like “change over time” in order to avoid provoking the wrath of parents and local clergy.
Surveys of science teachers around the country show that a sizable percentage of them avoid the issue in order to avoid the controversy. Some choose to stand up and fight for what they know is right. One teacher here in Michigan told me at a science teacher’s convention that every year when he begins the section on evolution in his classes, he gets at least a few angry parents come to complain to him about it. He said he keeps a copy of the Edwards v Aguillard Supreme Court ruling on hand to show them.