Ohio School District: WTF????

This is an amazing story, and unfortunately, it is probably being repeated again and again across the country. It begins with a parent who does not want his daugther exposed to science, which is pretty common, but leads to a startling revelation about the local school board. Startling, but I’m afraid, probably not at all uncommon either.


In Pymatuning Valley Local School District, in Andover, Ohio, a “concerned” parent, Frank Piper, questioned the school board about the teaching of science in the middle school, where his daughter is enrolled.

Specifically, he is

concerned because the district is teaching the “big bang theory” of the creation of the universe and not presenting students with alternatives to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Creationism, which posits that life is too complex to be explained by evolution alone, and its place in public school curricula, has been a highly debated issue in Ohio and elsewhere for several years.

That quote from the Star Beacon is interesting because it directly conflates ID and creationism, something that i-f337505870c19ec91c08c54385ef8425-Cdesign proponentsISTS.jpg are trying to avoid. But I digress.

Piper said his daughter is a straight A student and failed her test on the “big bang theory” because she didn’t understand it.

“We’re Christians,” he said. “I couldn’t even help her because I don’t understand it.”

Any Christians reading this? He’s suggesting that there is a link between being Christian and being not very smart. There are, of course, many layers here. The issue of the origin of life is connected to the “Big Bang Theory” in only the vaguest way. (The Big Bang eventually resulted in the formation of Carbon and other important elements of life, but in a very complex way that can only be explained by … let’s see … physics…). Is this student in a physics class or a biology class? But again, I digress.

This, dear reader, is the truly scary part of the story:

Board of Education President Brad Lane said he was under the impression the district was teaching both sides of the issue, but PV Middle School Principal Andrew Kuthy said that is not the case.

“We teach what is out of the state curriculum,” Kuthy said.

Holy crap. This is like one of the California wild fires that just will not go out. You think you’ve got it under control (Dover) but there are tiny little embers everywhere, each one a potential new forest fire. But don’t’ worry, they’re on it:

Superintendent Jake Rose said the district would look into whether it could teach both views as part of the curriculum. Rose said he was going to do some research on the issue and speak with the district’s science consultant as to where the state stands on the issue.

“The big-bang theory has been around forever, but (the parent is) right; it’s just a theory,” Rose said.

Wow.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Knop
    December 12, 2007

    The Big Bang eventually resulted in the formation of Carbon and other important elements of life

    <Pedantic Astronomer&rt;
    Really, the Big Bang just made Hydrogen and Helium, and a wee bit of Lithium and Beryllium. All the Carbon, Oxygen, etc. was made later in stars and supernovae.
    </Pedantic Astronomer&rt;

    Re: the whole “just a theory” thing, I wish that every year they’d have a unit about how science works so that people might, just might, come to understand how use of the phrase “just a theory” indicates a deep misunderstanding about science.

  2. #2 Dave S.
    December 12, 2007

    “We’re Christians,” he said. “I couldn’t even help her because I don’t understand it.”

    Maybe it would help if they knew the Big Bang Theory was first put forth by Georges Lemaitre (sp?), a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium.

    And yeah, its really really annoying to see the ‘it’s just a theory’ thing being brought up again and again. I think I’ll get the scientific definition of a theory tattooed on my forehead, so then folks will know.

  3. #3 douchebag
    December 12, 2007

    ^might as well get the tat: you probably couldn’t get laid any less than you are now

  4. #4 writerdd
    December 12, 2007

    Maybe it would help if they knew the Big Bang Theory was first put forth by Georges Lemaitre (sp?), a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium.

    Maybe it would help if more people understood that U.S. evangelicals don’t consider Catholics to be real Christians. Catholicism is largely considered a cult, an idol worshipping false religion, and a tool of Satan.

  5. #5 MiddleO'Nowhere
    December 12, 2007

    The whole “It’s only a theory” line reminds me of a bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They’re all standing there looking at Camelot. A few of the men say “Camelot” in an awestruck voice, and then Patsy says disparagingly, “It’s only a model.”

  6. #6 Scott Belyea
    December 12, 2007

    so that people might, just might, come to understand how use of the phrase “just a theory” indicates a deep misunderstanding about science.

    Not going to happen, and no reason why it should. If science is boneheaded enough to persist in using a term very differently than it is used in The Rest of The World, and if scientists continue to be quoted using it “wrongly” (which they are), then why should things be expected to change?

  7. #7 mark
    December 12, 2007

    With what level of detail do they go into the Big Bang? We didn’t talk about it at all when I was in 5th grade (I think it had been formulated by then).
    Perhaps Piper’s little darling is not as smart as he thinks she is. After all, Kurt Wise did earn his doctorate, even though he didn’t believe the material.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    December 12, 2007

    Rob: I KNEW one of you astro-pedants would be along shortly about this exact topic…. Notice the wording I used .. it’s complex. You are, of course, completely correct and I appreciate the comment!

  9. #9 Jason Failes
    December 12, 2007

    I thought that the big Bang theory survived this long despite its inherent weaknesses, incorrect predictions, ad hoc additions, and far more variables than observations precisely because it was close enough to “let there be light” that Christians never really fought it (and often supported it) unlike, say, evolution or heliocentrism.

    (That said, I do think that the lack of a comprehensive alternative theory has also played a large part, as well as the human tendancy to need an answer, any answer, even though we are still the cosmic equivalent of Mr. Magoo: We can’t see all the objects in our solar system. We can barely see (large) planets in other systems. We can’t detect dark matter, or dark energy, or gravitational waves, or whatever else might be lurking out there, but we think we have the answer in the back of the book because there’s background radiation and the universe is expanding (although accelerating for some reason, against all predictions))

  10. #10 the real cmf
    December 20, 2007

    “Catholicism is largely considered a cult, an idol worshipping false religion”

    You mean it isn’t one? For that matter, what IS a true religion?

Current ye@r *