You have to tell your child’s life science teacher (or, any science teacher for that matter) that your family does not support creationism, does not want to see anyone “teaching the controversy” and that you know that “Intelligent Design” is a form of creationism. I promise you, the creationist parents of your child’s peers, and some of the creationist kids in the classroom, are not keeping their mouths shut. Why should you?

So, pursuant to this, I have composed a template for you to use as an email or letter to send to your child or ward’s life science teacher:

Dear [Fill In the Blank],

My child/ward [Fill In the Blank] is in your class, [Fill In the Blank], and s/he and I are both very excited about the prospect of learning a great deal of new things about the natural world, as well as how to approach problems scientifically. Whenever you are looking for parent volunteers for help in your class, or seek spare or recycled materials that we may have at home, we will be the first to volunteer, so don’t hesitate to contact me ([Fill in best way to contact]).

I am very much aware, as I’m sure you are as well, that teaching science can be controversial, and that there are people and organizations, and even some of your students and some of their parents, and perhaps even some of your colleagues on the faculty, who would prefer you to either teach creationism or, at least, give creationism (or, as it is sometimes called, “Intelligent Design”) some sort of “equal time.” However, I’m sure you are also aware that the Federal Courts have decided quite firmly that “Intelligent Design” and “Teaching the Controversy” are nothing other than novel forms of the same old creationism, and that it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution to do so. I and my entire family are fully in agreement that no form of creationism or anything like creationism should ever be taught in a science class in a public school.

It is not uncommon for a teacher to hear from creationists that they don’t like evolution, or Darwin, or that they want their religious beliefs to shape your curriculum. Those individuals, be they parents or students or someone else, are wrong, and they have no legal, ethical, or moral basis to make such an argument. Nonetheless, they can cause trouble, and that seems to be their intent on occasion. I want you to know that I am a member of the National Center for Science Education as well as our local equivalent, [Fill in the blank with name of state or local group], and if you ever have any pressure from any source to hold back on teaching excellent science, including and especially evolution, you can count on me and those organizations to lend you support in a thoughtful and professional manner.

Also, I should say this: I’m sure that you are not a creationist and that you yourself would never feel moved to introduce creationism into your classroom in any form. But, it is only fair to indicate that my son/daughter, who is taking your class fully understands the dog-whistle clues that creationists often use, and has an excellent understanding of the nature of this “debate” and will thus be able to identify any such antics in any or all of his/her classes.

Finally, I would like to recommend the following resources for you.

Membership in The National Center for Science Education provides useful publications and a periodical. (Click here to join.)

Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, by Eugenie Scott.

The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, which is about the effects of the Dover Trial on the people and school.

Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, by Barbara Forrest.

Also, you should read Greg Laden’s Blog.

In fact, I’ve gone ahead and purchased one of these items for you [Fill in the blank indicating NCSE membership or book].

Sincerely,

[Fill in the blank]

Comments

  1. #1 Amph
    September 9, 2010

    Also, you should read Greg Laden’s Blog.

    Nah, I’ll skip that line. They will discover I cannot even compose my own letters without help.

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    September 9, 2010

    Amph, there’s nothing wrong with looking organized.

  3. #3 DuWayne
    September 9, 2010

    Amph –

    You could just rewrite the letter to suit your voice. I tend to eschew form letters for my own voice (even when I have to avoid expletives).

  4. #4 Amy M.
    September 9, 2010

    I just sent a link and a note, “what he said”.

  5. #5 chuck13
    September 9, 2010

    I would love to be a snarky kid in front of a teacher trying to teach ID knowing what I know now. Like “if that designer is so intelligent how come people aren’t solar powered so we woildn’t have to eat and poop all the time, ya know?”

  6. #6 Greg
    September 15, 2010

    I value your belief. It enriches the diversity in theories explored. But I have always imagined dictators doing the same in their effort to push or impose ideas. Do it for your children! Even emotional keys used. And how arrogant to assume other children need to be spared. Who and what entitles you to make that choice on behalf of other people? It is not your job. Let science be science and allow the reasoning and arguments of both/or more to be explored. By being so singular in thought your doing a whole lot more damage to the field of science, by being exactly what it teaches not to be, biased in anyway, leaving space for continual evaluation and investigation. Grow up it is not a mud fight, this is not kindergarten.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    September 15, 2010

    Greg, a science class is not a group of practicing scientist, as you seem to imply. Nobody is imposing bounds on scientists by saying that teachers need to cover the subject they were hired and put in place to cover and the curriculum decided upon by national, state and local educational authorities or to respect the bounds imposed by the Constitution and the courts.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    September 15, 2010

    Greg, there is a process in the US. Teachers are busy and need to attend to the process, which means covering the state-wide standards. You are asking teachers to fail to do their jobs.

  9. #9 April F
    September 19, 2010

    It is absolutely legal in our school district for government schools (public school) to teach the controversy. In fact there sas an election last year on whether to continue to teach the controversey or not and there was over 80% that did want it. SO they kept it. I am actually pleased with the decision as children should be exposed to both sides.

  10. #10 April
    September 19, 2010

    Students and teachers DO have certain freedoms to speak.The National Center for Science Education, the leading advocate of teaching evolution in government schools, admits that the courts have established only five basic standards:

    1. Supervisors may forbid teaching creation.
    2. Supervisors may not forbid teaching evolution.
    3. Supervisors may require teaching evolution.
    4. Supervisors may not require teaching creation.
    5. Whatever is done, it may not be done dogmatically.

    SO in reality it is up to the supervisor unless a law has been passed in your city. THis is not a federal law.

  11. #11 Renak
    February 2, 2011

    I have taught biology for 11 years in Kansas. I have never been involved in a controversial interaction with a parent. But if a parent or student ever suggests that I “teach the controversy” or “give equal time”, I will suggest that I do that at their church/sunday school. That way it doesn’t take time from my curriculum.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    February 3, 2011

    April, you are dangerously misinformed. Well, you were last September, anyway.