Pharyngula

National science standards?

I’ll believe them when I see them. Greg Laden says we should all vote on this idea: that we ought to rather thoroughly revamp how science is taught in this country by setting national science standards on the teaching of evolution. I’d like to see it if it could be done well, but I predict that such an initiative would set up some awesome squealing from the creationists…which is another reason to support it.

Comments

  1. #1 LS
    December 4, 2008

    Sqveel little creationists pigies Sqveel, im getting bored and need entertainment

  2. #2 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    Already voted on it in the last thread. Is there any way i can do it again (explain slowly- i’m a space geek, not a techno fanboy)?

  3. #3 woodstein312
    December 4, 2008

    Yes, there should absolutely be strict standards when it comes to teaching evolution to students. An understanding of Darwin’s theories is essential to the most basic education in biology, just like understanding how to add, subtract and multiply is key to understanding basic math.
    It baffles me that students, including home-schoolers– are able to get into college in this country without ever learning, or by intentionally ignoring, the concepts of evolution. If I ruled the world (someday, just try and stop me), students wouldn’t be able to progress through high school and on to universities without meeting this criterion for education. How can America claim its place among the developed nations of the world if our children are kept in the dark on the most essential theory in biology?

  4. #4 Jing-reed
    December 4, 2008

    Help to spread the information about setting national standards for science education.

    I found that even for a 75 year old geezer like myself the process of automatically adding a widget to my blog was surprisingly simple.

  5. #5 Michael Hawkins
    December 4, 2008

    This is a great idea.

    Anyone with a blog should be blogging about this.

  6. #6 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    How can America claim its place among the developed nations of the world if our children are kept in the dark on the most essential theory in biology[, and we have no marketable assets, and we have poor healthcare, and we are driven my emotional, insane religiots, and....and....]

    Just thought i would bitch as usual. I’m frankly embarrassed for our country. Getting our asses in gear as far as education is concerned ought to be priority #3 after the economy and our piss-poor foreign relations dominated by oil. Anything i missed?

  7. #7 Steve
    December 4, 2008

    National standards would be awesome, but it’ll be a big uphill fight. It’s worth fighting, though!

  8. #8 Brett
    December 4, 2008

    I just graduated from college in ’08 and I don’t remember learning about evolution in high school science class at all. The topic was just glossed over, sadly. Thank you Oregon.

  9. #9 havoc
    December 4, 2008

    Most of our country is still dominated by the religious right… don’t let the recent election fool you.

    …the statistics on blacks who voted for Obama while still supporting the gay marriage ban in CA should give some insight to this.

    Electing a “liberal” president doesn’t necessarily mean this country is ready to put our socially convservative past behind us…

  10. #10 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    National science standards would be excellent if they were identical to Florida’s new science standards, except perhaps they could remove the constant repetition of “The Theory of” from the standards which were put there to compromise with the creationists who don’t know what a scientific theory is.

    National science standards, if they were the best possible standards, would be a big improvement, especially in America’s hick infested states that have received a D or F grade from the Fordham Institute.

    Science education in America is under attack, with “discovery learning” on one flank and the Discovery Institute on the other. That’s the core finding of our just-released comprehensive review of state science standards, the first since 2000. Written by pre-eminent biologist Paul R. Gross, The State of State Science Standards finds that even though the majority of states have reworked, or crafted from scratch, their science standards over the past five years, we’re no better off now than before. That’s the bad news. The good news is that many of the standards are easily fixed. More involvement by bench scientists, and better editing, could greatly improve what’s out there. Plus, there are a number of excellent models to follow (California, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, for example). The public’s anxiety about the future of our nation’s scientific prowess is palpable–and reasonable. How serious are we in addressing their concerns? To find out, read the report.

  11. #11 Your Mighty Overload
    December 4, 2008

    I would love to vote on this, but I suspect non-US citizens are not allowed to, and this is too much of an important thing to use any type of corrupt means to vote (so RickRoll at 2, don’t even think of giving them an excuse to pull it), since that would undermine its validity.

    On crappy internet polls, multiple voting doesn’t matter – in this case it could totally undermine us.

  12. #12 Meng Bomin
    December 4, 2008

    Most of our country is still dominated by the religious right… don’t let the recent election fool you.

    But that’s why elitism is so great. The people who care most about scientific education are professional scientists and science educators and thus they have a louder voice than the “riff raff” who don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be the occasional creationist challenge, but Kansas and Texas are the exception, not the rule in terms of creationist power. Remember that the Dover judge was a Bush-appointed Republican. Bringing the issue to the national level could help seal up some of those pockets where the forces of ignorance are getting feisty.

    But, as PZ rightly points out, we have to make sure that such standards are done well. If the main effect is worsening the quality of education in states where it’s relatively high rather than patching it up in the straying states, then it’s certainly not a worthwhile endeavor.

  13. #13 DagoRed
    December 4, 2008

    A national standard I think is a VERY BAD idea short of making it an amendment to the constitution! Otherwise, it will become yet another toggle to fiddle with for the ever revolving machinations of the executive branch.

    All is fine while we have some semblance of an Obama-esque administration, but the next time the intellectually retarded public of ours elects another Bushie-clone to prez (and, yes, this WILL happen some day), what will keep some Liberty University “graduate” appointee to the Department of Education from slipping in the “teach the controversy” to this proposed national standard? The WHOLE nation then becomes subjected to this educational corruption for a period of four or eight years. No thanks. I am not willing to save a few backward Southern and Midwestern states at the risk of exposing the ENTIRE nations children to this kind of lunacy.

  14. #14 Molly, NYC
    December 4, 2008

    You can reasonably assume that the ID crowd will begin yammering about “states’ rights” when this comes up.

  15. #15 JM
    December 4, 2008

    We have national science standards here in the UK, and they are apparently rather poor (I’m not a science educator). At least, someone from the Royal Society of Chemistry has submitted a petition to our Prime Minister asking for a return to science education and examination based on problem-solving, critical thinking and the application of mathematics rather than the descriptive science taught and examined here currently. See http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/examstandards/

    It could do with some help from British citizens.

  16. #16 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    A national standard is important. I think that once we can get this passed- again, i have no idea how influential this poll even IS- we will be on our way to a point-of-no-return as far as improving the country (surprising, i know, since i probly dislike america the most on this thread, and it is nearly antithetical to my sentiment earlier). I doubt it will be reversed, and it ethically couldn’t be. It would be the equivelent to going back to slavery. Not to say That couldn’t happen either.
    The whole issue of states rights was settled in the 1860’s i beleive, and boy did we kick ass! Yes, i say we, because technically, the Conferderacy was another country, until we re-asssimilated it by force. Good to see how well that all worked out. *roll*

  17. #17 clinteas
    December 4, 2008

    In any other country trying to do this,I would be concerned that the smallest common denominator found would actually be worse that the preexisting averages,but in the U.S. its probably not such a bad idea.

  18. #18 Sigmund
    December 4, 2008

    It’s a good idea in principle but it doesn’t address the real problem underlying the teaching of evolution in US schools. The real problem is bad science teachers.
    Is there a single district in the US with science standards that would prevent a good teacher from teaching evolution?
    Turn it around the other way.
    Is there any possible set of science standards that will counteract the negative effects of a biology teacher who is a strict creationist?
    According to the recent study of US teachers by Michael Berkman of Penn State;
    “The researchers polled a random sample of nearly 2000 high-school science teachers across the US in 2007. Of the 939 who responded, 2% said they did not cover evolution at all, with the majority spending between 3 and 10 classroom hours on the subject.
    However, a quarter of the teachers also reported spending at least some time teaching about creationism or intelligent design. Of these, 48% – about 12.5% of the total survey – said they taught it as a “valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species”.

    When you have 12.5% of US teachers who are creationists and 25% who think its reasonable to teach both evolution and intelligent design it is pointless window-dressing to simply change the science standards while ignoring the fact that the current level of bad teachers render the whole exercise moot.

  19. #19 Walton
    December 4, 2008

    Does the federal government really have the constitutional authority to impose “national science standards”? I realise they could use conditional grants in order to strong-arm state governments into complying (as they presently do with the drinking age). But this seems to me to be obeying the letter of the Constitution, not the spirit.

    And is it really a good idea? Localism is very valuable. As Milton Friedman says, “If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.”

    The thing is, centralised federal control can work both ways. It might promote the teaching of evolution – and make you happy – today, but tomorrow, under someone else’s control, it might just as easily impose bad standards on everyone. Friedman again: “Government can never duplicate the variety and diversity of individual action. At any moment in time… by imposing uniform standards in schooling, road construction or sanitation, central government could undoubtedly improve the level of performance in many local areas and perhaps even on the average of all communities. But in the process, government would replace progress by stagnation, it would substitute uniform mediocrity for the variety essential for that experimentation which can bring tomorrow’s laggards above today’s mean.”

  20. #20 clinteas
    December 4, 2008

    Sigmund @ 18,

    When you have 12.5% of US teachers who are creationists and 25% who think its reasonable to teach both evolution and intelligent design it is pointless window-dressing to simply change the science standards while ignoring the fact that the current level of bad teachers render the whole exercise moot.

    Good point,it never occurred to me that that might be a problem,it would be unthinkable anywhere else in the first world.
    Maybe if you had uniform science standards,teachers could be forced to teach evolution,whether they like it or not? 12.5% of teachers creationists,man,what a disgrace.

    Does anyone know a good book about the origin and rise of this shit in the US?

  21. #21 G. Tingey
    December 4, 2008

    # 17 the UK has something like national standards.

    There is the core “National Curriculum” which MUST be taught. For most subjects, not just science.

    Started to try to improve our educational-standards which were slipping badly.
    Unfortuneatly, the whole thing has bee vitiated by the exams getting easier, so an “A”-level (High-School graduation exam equivalent at age 18) pass of “A” (grades A-to-E are passes) now, is equivalent to grades A-to-C of 40 years ago.
    The Royal Society of Chemistry did the tests and the guvmint is now trying to wriggle out of the findings.
    AND
    the BBC gave it LOTS of publicity

    However, we DO have proper celebrations for 200 yrse x 12the February 1809 coming up in the form of a major public exhibition called Darwin’s BIG idea

  22. #22 John Morales
    December 4, 2008

    Walton @19,

    And is it [creating national standards] really a good idea? Localism is very valuable. As Milton Friedman says, “If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. …”

    There’re already many national standards*, would you argue these are a bad idea? Would it be very valuable if each county had its own weights and measures, for example?

    The thing is, centralised federal control can work both ways. It might promote the teaching of evolution – and make you happy – today, but tomorrow, under someone else’s control, it might just as easily impose bad standards on everyone.

    This argument applies to already existing standards (eg. FDA); note that as the number of stakeholders increases, changes for the worse become more difficult to enact.

    * Federal law is a “national law standard”, for example.

  23. #23 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Walton,

    stop your nonsense with localized free-markets for Schools, it’d be a catastrophy.
    There is a very simple reason why : parents, in order to choose a school, would look at performance indicators published by the schools. A school, in order to get good results, would just make the tests as easy as possible.
    Which obviously corrupts the whole system.
    Anybody with half a brain can see that you need national standardised tests in order to be able to benchmark schools.
    I’ve already asked you this question, to which you refused to answer : how are parents supposed to judge the quality of a school if there are no national standardised tests to compare the results of its students ?

  24. #24 John Morales
    December 4, 2008

    G. Tingey @21, looks like the UK is ahead of the USA, anyway :)

    BTW, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has interesting resources, particularly the online database for the most recent assessment in 2006.

  25. #25 pieco
    December 4, 2008

    Science always help to human for Investigation and experiment
    Science is boon of world.
    With Regards
    http://look4leads.com/blogger/index.php?null

    http://www.look4leads.com/

    http://www.look4leads.com/forum/index.php

  26. #26 John Morales
    December 4, 2008

    Troll @25, thanks for giving me another site to block in my hosts file.

    Idiot.

  27. #27 Sigmund
    December 4, 2008

    #20
    “Maybe if you had uniform science standards,teachers could be forced to teach evolution,whether they like it or not?”
    Only 2% of US science teachers currently avoid evolution completely. This means that the vast majority of even creationist teachers do teach about it.
    The question is what they teach.
    Look at the Discovery Institute.
    Do they want teachers to ignore evolution?
    Or do they want teachers to teach the Jonathan Wells version of evolution (that there are no transitional fossils and that the only evidence for the theory are discredited points such as the Piltdown skull or the “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” hypothesis of Ernst Haeckel.)
    I suspect that most creationists would be perfectly happy teaching about evolution (and how it has so many ‘flaws’ and ‘gaps’). I also suspect that they would be incapable of properly explaining the positive evidence for evolution (what possible standards could make a Caroline Crocker teach evolution in a way you would be satisfied to send your children to her class?).

  28. #28 John Morales
    December 4, 2008

    Sigmund,

    what possible standards could make a Caroline Crocker teach evolution in a way you would be satisfied to send your children to her class?

    I imagine that if textbooks used included required material from a standardised curriculum, and students were tested on that content, underperforming teachers would find it very difficult to evade their responsibility.

  29. #29 Richard Harris
    December 4, 2008

    I thought it would be a good thing to have such standards, especially if it upsets the Cre*ti*nists. Non-US citizens are allowed to vote, but my vote just now was merely # 101.

    This needs Pharyngulizing!

  30. #30 Jack
    December 4, 2008

    As someone who just started teaching, my take on it is that national standards probably wouldn’t change much at all. Most states have some sort of “state” standards. If a teacher is ignoring those, he’ll just ignore the national standards. Meanwhile I don’t trust the federal government to maintain consistently good science standards. And please, don’t let them near Social Studies standards.

    Anyway, I wasn’t going to get involved in the school debate but #23 was pretty insulting so I’ll jump in for a little bit.

    I’ve already asked you this question, to which you refused to answer : how are parents supposed to judge the quality of a school if there are no national standardised tests to compare the results of its students ?

    There are national standardised tests – the ACT and the SAT.

    Furthermore, you would judge private schools like you judge colleges. Which classes do they offer? Some might offer a better program in Japanese or have a better band or something. Who has the best teacher? Campus? Who has the best reputation among colleges? How many of their graduates go to good colleges? etc.

    Plus there would definitely be quite a few “consumer reports” type publications on schools. They would be accredited or given a seal of approval or given a grade. You don’t need the government for that, it happens in quite a few markets already.

  31. #31 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Jack,

    There are national standardised tests – the ACT and the SAT.

    So if you support national standardised tests, why don’t support national science standards ?
    And if you want my opinion, the ACT or the SAT are still more of a farce than anything else, try british “A levels” or French Baccalaureat for proper national standardised evaluations.

  32. #32 KL
    December 4, 2008

    As a long time teacher, there are several obstacles to good science teaching. Standardized, content based tests cover too much, so teachers must rip through the material, giving students too shallow an experience. There are few good standardized tools to assess science process, and process can’t be taught as easily in large, very diverse classes with little equipment and 45 minute class periods. Many people who love science go on to be scientists, since teaching high school kinda interferes with being a scientist. Few schools provide real professional development opportunities that allow teachers to be scientists. (there are some, just not many and schools can’t afford to send their teachers to them). Finally, our standards for elementary teachers are so incredibly low, many math and science phobics end up in primary classrooms, where science and math are given less time and attention.

    These are generalities, but it explains why the most successful students come from magnet and science charter schools, large schools with AP programs, and non-fundamentalist religious and secular private schools, as they have found ways to overcome these problems. The average students often slip through the cracks, yielding a citizenry that is mostly science illiterate.

  33. #33 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    When you have 12.5% of US teachers who are creationists and 25% who think its reasonable to teach both evolution and intelligent design it is pointless window-dressing to simply change the science standards while ignoring the fact that the current level of bad teachers render the whole exercise moot.

    This is one of the reasons why I have so much contempt for Christians. Thousands of students never received a proper education in science because their teachers were creationist retards. All creationist teachers must be fired immediately. They must never be allowed to teach anything ever again. No matter what the subject is, idiots should not be allowed to teach it, and nobody is more idiotic and hopelessly stupid than a creationist.

  34. #34 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 4, 2008

    There’s that rational response we’re looking for.

  35. #35 cyan
    December 4, 2008

    #33 BobC,

    What Constitution-legal test do you propose to filter out those teachers who are creationists? If such a test were legal, what is to prevent a creationist from lying in order to pass it?

    With national standards in place, at least one could track whether or not a teacher were following them, regardless of their professed beliefs,

  36. #36 300baud
    December 4, 2008

    Been reading a lot of Canadian news the last couple days, took me a few beats to figure out why there would be resistance to the idea.

  37. #37 clinteas
    December 4, 2008

    BobC,

    mate,easy there,just easy….

    All creationist teachers must be fired immediately. They must never be allowed to teach anything ever again. No matter what the subject is, idiots should not be allowed to teach it, and nobody is more idiotic and hopelessly stupid than a creationist.

    I take it its early morning in the US,so you must be writing this while sober?
    Even worse.
    The last thing your country needs is a cleansing operation where teachers are filtered for their beliefs or religious denominations…Whats next,put a yellow star on them?
    Just think your posts through every once in a while mate….

    This is why i am fond of the idea of a national science standard,so even the creo teachers would be legally bound to teach certain topics,and if they dont,or dont make a big enough effort,good riddance,Im all for it.

  38. #38 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    #35 cyan, students could report any teacher suspected of being a creationist. Then a simple interview could easily determine whether or not the teacher believed a god fairy waved its magic wand to create people and other creatures. I feel very strongly these teachers should be publicly humiliated, fired, and permanently banned from teaching. It’s not fair to students to be stuck with an idiot teacher.

  39. #39 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    The last thing your country needs is a cleansing operation where teachers are filtered for their beliefs or religious denominations

    I am suggesting teachers should be fired for being incompetent. That’s the way it is in every other profession. If a person deserves to be fired, he or she should be fired. There should be no exceptions, especially not for the teaching profession.

  40. #40 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 4, 2008

    Um, yeah that’s a great idea.

    Over the next two years, an intricate network of informants was developed. School children were encouraged to inform on teachers they suspected of homosexuality, employers on employees and vice versa. Homosexuals who were arrested were used to create lists of homosexuals or suspected homosexuals. The clear intention was to identify every homosexual in Germany and move them to concentration camps

    Frankly I’d like to move away from any and all tactics like that. It’s exactly that kind of talk that the creationists use to brand us all as wanting to send the religious to the camps.

    No thanks.

    Judge teachers on their ability to teach the subject matter.

    Period.

  41. #41 Baudi
    December 4, 2008

    I voted and posted a widget in my facebook and myspace. It was very easy to do. If anyone has any questions just ask me. I can’t think of anything more important than teaching proper science to American students.

  42. #42 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    Judge teachers on their ability to teach the subject matter.

    It’s fair to say creationist teachers are not qualified to teach evolution. It would be like having a math teacher who believes 2 + 2 = 5 teaching mathematics.

    If I was a student I wouldn’t want a creationist teacher in any class, for the simple reason creationists are insane uneducated hicks.

    Try to imagine believing a god fairy poofed people into existence. That really requires a tremendous amount of stupidity. These idiots must be purged from our public schools.

  43. #43 wombat
    December 4, 2008

    The SAT and ACT are administered and created by private organizations. The SAT by the non-profit College Board and the ACT by the non-profit ACT, Inc. They have become standardized not through some direct government intervention but through their acceptance at virtually every institute of higher learning. Therefore they are not analogous to this discussion.

    I wouldn’t be so eager to push for national science standards from the federal government. It is far easier to poison one well than it is many. Perhaps there would be a placed for suggested standards. But mandating and enforcing standards is hard enough on a state level much less on the massive scale that would be necessary for a national law.

  44. #44 Walton
    December 4, 2008

    BobC, you are frighteningly insane.

  45. #45 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 4, 2008

    It’s fair to say creationist teachers are not qualified to teach evolution. It would be like having a math teacher who believes 2 + 2 = 5 teaching mathematics.

    If I was a student I wouldn’t want a creationist teacher in any class, for the simple reason creationists are insane uneducated hicks.

    Try to imagine believing a god fairy poofed people into existence. That really requires a tremendous amount of stupidity. These idiots must be purged from our public schools.

    You’re now dangerously treading into calling for thought police.

    A creationist can teach the standards. Unfortunately many of them chose not to, but that does not mean they can not.

  46. #46 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 4, 2008

    King of Typos strikes again!

  47. #47 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    BobC,

    put a bit of water in your wine :

    you wrote :

    All creationist teachers must be fired immediately. They must never be allowed to teach anything ever again.

    This is quite different from what you wrote next :

    I am suggesting teachers should be fired for being incompetent.

    I don’t really see how being a creationist would automatically mean that a teacher is incompetent to teach anything, be it English, French, Art, or Mathematics.

    One of the best math teacher I ever had was one of the most creationist nutcase believer I ever met.

  48. #48 Ibid
    December 4, 2008

    I’m rather surprised to see that only two posters have addressed the fact that administrations change.
    As long as you, I, or Obama are setting the standards you’ll get properly considered and sound science lessons. But when Sarah Palin beats out Hillary Clinton in 2016 the standards would change to show that humans and dinosaurs lived side by side until Jesus came to Earth to kill the dinosaurs.

  49. #49 Prof MTH
    December 4, 2008

    I support revamping the entire educational system. They current system perpetuates inequality. For example, most districts fund schools by collecting property taxes at a district (sub-city) level. Some states supplement those funds with “sin taxes”–taxes on alcohol, etc.

    Realizing that this funding system creates and perpetuates inequality, citizens of Texas sued the state claiming that this funding system violated the student’s rights. They lost. I favor nationalizing education and funding it federally not locally and especially not at a sub-city level (districts). After all, all of Western Europe at least has a nationalized educational system and their K-12 schools far exceed ours.

    When I bring this argument up with politicians some one invariably yells “that is communism” or “what about states rights”. Well, it is not communism and the comment underscores your ignorance if not elitism. States rights by definition end at the state line; education transcends state lines. Look at what happened to schools after Katrina; students compete nationally and even internationally for placement in universities; people simply move.

    Also, Western Europe has a nationalized standardized curriculum. Every Child Left Behind attempted to partially set nationalized standards and curriculum did not establish nationalized resources. Schools must first improve before they receive supplementary federal funds. School that decline are punished via funds withdrawn. Many schools declined after Katrina because of the influx of low socio-economic students who had been receiving a poorer education combined with stagnant funding.

    If we are really committed to improving education and competing internationally we must revamp the entire K-12 educational system. We need to teach more math and science as well as humanities subjects; we must equalize per child funding, standardized curriculum, nationally standardized teacher qualifications which should include having at least a BA in the subject one teaches. Now a math teacher, in some school districts, is not required to have a degree or even a minor in Math in order to teach that subject.

    If life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are truly inalienable rights then a quality education is a necessary means for enjoying equal opportunity and participation in liberty (self-determination) and pursuing happiness (well-being). “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

    Also, studies show that secularism increases with quality and degree of education.

  50. #50 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    But when Sarah Palin beats out Hillary Clinton in 2016 the standards would change to show that humans and dinosaurs lived side by side until Jesus came to Earth to kill the dinosaurs.

    Are you suggesting that national science standards would necessarily be set by the POTUS ?

  51. #51 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    December 4, 2008

    Ibid, please get the delusion right. The peace loving, coconut eating Dinosaurs were killed off by humanities sins. Some of those beasties may have been very large but they were oh so sensitive.

  52. #52 Ibid
    December 4, 2008

    I’m rather surprised to see that only two posters have addressed the fact that administrations change.
    As long as you, I, or Obama are setting the standards you’ll get properly considered and sound science lessons. But when Sarah Palin beats out Hillary Clinton in 2016 the standards would change to show that humans and dinosaurs lived side by side until Jesus came to Earth to kill the dinosaurs.

  53. #53 Prof MTH
    December 4, 2008

    To address the issue of changing administrations, the education curriculum would be controlled by the Department of Education (which admittedly is subject to Presidential appointment) but in conjunction with the National Education Association. This type of system is already utilized in other fields. For example, The General Accounting Office publishes documents for Congress that are supposed to provide actual data related to a public policy issue. The GAO regularly outsources the research and writing to the private sector. The American Bar Association does a lot of research for the GAO.

  54. #54 Ibid
    December 4, 2008

    The POTUS would select the people that sets the standards, yes.

  55. #55 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Ibid,

    it wouldn’t be either you, I or Obama who would set the National Science Standards, because none of these three person is competent to do this. Think !

  56. #56 Sigmund
    December 4, 2008

    It doesn’t matter if a teacher is a creationist or if he or she accepts the theory of evolution, what matters is that they teach biology properly (for the most part maths, chemistry and physics are not a problem at high school level).
    I suppose it’s possible that they can simply follow a curriculum but I wonder how effectively they can teach specific topics if they personally believe the lesson plan is false. A science teacher should never teach things they believe are lies.

  57. #57 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    The POTUS would select the people that sets the standards, yes.

    Who says so ?

  58. #58 Rob
    December 4, 2008

    NCLB has been a horrendous flop that has probably done more to hold back real education than anything else in recent history.

    What makes people think that national science standards would be implemented any better?

  59. #59 Robert Grumbine
    December 4, 2008

    The current national educational debacle in progress — no child left behind — is an example of what we get with ‘national standards’. As such, I’d be very careful about wishing for national education standards.

    If it were my sisters (teachers, including science) and me (scientist) writing the standards, ok. How confident are you that we would be? Or that our version would remain the standard? Take a look at Kansas over the last decade before answering.

    Remember, too, that nothing you put in a standards document will prevent bad teachers from being bad teachers. Nor from bad principals from keeping bad teachers. On the other hand, you can prevent good teachers from being good teachers. Much of what has been done, imnsho, over the last 20-30 years of ‘tightening’ state standards has been in that vein.

    Good teachers don’t just teach a raft of disconnected factoids. But factoids are cheap and easy to test. So (state and local) standards have driven towards more and more of them. They’re now so numerous that it’s hard to teach both enough factoids and do anything that would inspire any interest in or understanding of science. Bad teachers, on the other hand, like lists of things to memorize. How many people today think science is just a bunch of memorization? Remember that scibloggers and their readers are hardly a typical sample.

    Before supporting national standards, I’d be thinking long and hard about how confident I was that they’d be good standards (vs. the climate section written by Exxon lobbyists, evolution by Pat Robertson, vaccination by Jenny McCarthy, …), that they’d be supportive of good teaching, and that once in place, they would only improve over time.

  60. #60 Prof MTH
    December 4, 2008

    Grumbine:

    Yes those are all problems but some of them are parasitic on the current funding system. As I said, we need to revamp the ENTIRE SYTEM. Every Child Left Behind did not revise anything.

    And a nationalized system can be done, as I said, look at all of Western Europe (and even Eastern Europe). It is one thing to complain but another to offer solutions.

  61. #61 KS Bioteacher
    December 4, 2008

    I must have missed some critical part of this discussion??

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=4962

    We’ve had national science education standards since 1996 with very explicit content standards on evolution–every state standards of any worth rely heavily on the national standards. These standards are one of our most effective tools when we fight the political battles for effective science education. I can assure that they were very important during both of the Kansas Science Standards crises. The biggest problem with the NSES is that they need iterative analysis and revision (just like science, itself) The path that led to these original standards was pretty bloody so there has not been any effort to revise the standards since they were published back in 1996. Check them out if you have time–for the most part they are pretty good.

  62. #62 wombat
    December 4, 2008

    “To address the issue of changing administrations, the education curriculum would be controlled by the Department of Education (which admittedly is subject to Presidential appointment) but in conjunction with the National Education Association.”

    No offense to you, but I really don’t think you know what the NEA does. They are the national teacher’s labor union whose purpose is to represent the interests of its membership. Indeed the NEA is the largest labor organization in the world. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but the interests of teachers do no always line up with the education of of their students. In addition to just being a bad idea, putting the NEA in charge or anything in a formal way would be outside the bounds what is allowable by law. They are an active lobbying organization.

    The goal here is noble but the focus is in the wrong place. The best way to promote and improve science education is not through a top down bureaucracy but through a bottom up, grass roots approach. Give your support to non-profits like the NCSE. Keep your eyes of the state standards and watch your local school boards activities. It may seem frustrating to have to run around stamping out multiple little fires of educational ignorance. But it is far better than building a giant stack of dry wood and hoping it doesn’t turn into a bonfire.

  63. #63 JJR
    December 4, 2008

    I just know it was an eye opening experience to read Peter Sacks’ book STANDARDIZED MINDS, on the shortcomings of standardized tests. Standardized tests are not necessarily the same thing, nor even need to be a component of, National Science Standards.

  64. #64 Prof MTH
    December 4, 2008

    Yes I know the NEA is also a labor union, of sorts. It is not a labor union like the UAW. I have worked at the NEA in DC. I know it is also a lobbying organization. It does other work as well.

    I also mentioned the Dept of Ed. We have a nationalized system already in place for universities. But universities are different from K-12. But maybe the NCSE is a better idea.

    But keep in mind I am advocating an education revolution; we need to revise education funding as well as curriculum standards; revise teacher qualifications. In a university you cannot teach Math without having a degree in Math (a PhD or MA); why should we allow someone with a BA in education teach Math in K-12?

    Yes, we need good teachers as well. That too can be taught/trained to some degree. My university hosts seminars for faculty. Georgetown University has a program (CNDLS) for PhD students, faculty, and teachers in the K-12 system.

    Funding is not a local fire that can be stamped out.

  65. #65 Pierce R. Butler
    December 4, 2008

    Uh, what’s “discovery learning”?

  66. #66 wombat
    December 4, 2008

    What is this “nationalized system already in place for universities”? System for what? All the universities I know of, with the exception of the service academies, are operated by State governments or private institutions. Their Presidents are chosen typically by the governor of the state. The federal government’s involvement in state universities is usually limited to grant funds for both students and research initiatives. Their are some federal laws that directly affect them (such as Title IX) but on the whole, they are run by the state.

    And thanks for the link KS Bioteacher. It seems like the National Academy of Science is on the case but I can imagine that they have been operating with some trepidation over the last 8 years due to having an administration that was pretty openly hostile to the sciences. Perhaps the new administration will provide the needed resources to update these standards. They could be a terrific resource for state boards of education to evaluate their standards and requirements. This is the proper way to go about this. The National Academies advise but does not make policy. That is the very thing that has made it so respected and affective.

  67. #67 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    The concept of a National Standardised Educational System pretty much exists in France since 1802, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte.

    The IGEN (Inspection générale de l’Éducation nationale) is the administrative body that writes the programmes and overseas the IEN (Inspection de l’Education Nationale), National Inspection Service of all public servants in the National Education System.

    It consists of 160 very highly ranked civil servants in 14 discplines who are recruited amongst the best professors in the public schools and universities. Doctorate with research habilitation or Agrégation (a civil service highly competitive examination for post graduates) and 10 years of teaching are minimum requirements, and in France, these are also standardised national degrees which you can’t get from a diploma mill.

    Why would you want that any of these members include ” humans and dinosaurs lived side by side until Jesus came to Earth to kill the dinosaurs” when our public educational system prohibits the recogntion of any religion ?

  68. #68 Ibid
    December 4, 2008

    negentropyeater,
    Qualified? Who said anything about qualified? We had a horse show judge as the director of FEMA.
    Sure we like to think that Obama would pick qualified people to set the standards. But you know Bush would have picked the head of the Minutemen or that guy on the bridge who screams at passing cars or someone like that to be the Secretary of Education. Palin would likely get someone like Ken Ham or Bill O’Reilly.

  69. #69 CrypticLife
    December 4, 2008

    NCLB has been a horrendous flop that has probably done more to hold back real education than anything else in recent history.

    This is probably not true. NCLB was a revision of ESEA, and our education issues preceded both. The tests of the NCLB are not national — each state devises their own tests, and could presumably make them more meaningful.

    BobC strikes me as an inverse Poe, as though he’s intentionally being ridiculously extreme. As such, perhaps he’s pointed out a difference between theists and atheists — none of the atheists here (many of whom are likely quite “militant”) agree with him.

  70. #70 Prof MTH
    December 4, 2008

    What is this “nationalized system already in place for universities”? System for what?

    “The accreditation database is brought to you by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. Each of the postsecondary educational institutions and programs contained within the database is, or was, accredited by an accrediting agency or state approval agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a “reliable authority as to the quality of postsecondary education” within the meaning of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The database does not include a number of postsecondary educational institutions and programs that elect not to seek accreditation but nevertheless may provide a quality postsecondary education.”

    So technically this is not a pure national accrediting system as it is still left up to the states to some degree but mandated by federal law.

    Further information:
    U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov
    Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) at http://www.chea.org
    Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) at http://www.detc.org
    Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association at http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org
    Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support (DANTES) at http://www.voled.doded.mil

  71. #71 CrypticLife
    December 4, 2008

    Uh, what’s “discovery learning”?

    It’s also called constructivism, in which kids “discover” their own learning. In math, a constructivist approach might be to give children blocks, and then told to group them (say, into one set of 6 and one of 11), and then to come up with a way to find out how many there are in total. Typically, in small groups.

    One way is to count the blocks. Another is to add the numbers. A third way is to estimate the values to 10 and 5, and then figure there are “about 15″ blocks.

    There are problems with this approach. First, when given tasks it tends to be easiest to pick the easiest approach, which leads to issues when kids are drawing 5 groups of six sticks each and then counting to get the answer to 6*5 in a complex problem.

    Generally, the same people who favor constructivist math (aka, “fuzzy” math) also favor whole language. Most teachers probably have some skepticism about both approaches, and teach with an arbitrary mixture of the two.

  72. #72 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Ibid,

    why do you assume that it would necessarily be the POTUS who would appoint the people who set the national science standards ?

  73. #73 Graculus
    December 4, 2008

    some awesome squealing from the creationists

    Am I the only one who flashedback to a scene from Deliverance?

    Yes?

    Erm, well, I’ll just have some more coffee.

  74. #74 Josh
    December 4, 2008

    In a university you cannot teach Math without having a degree in Math (a PhD or MA); why should we allow someone with a BA in education teach Math in K-12?

    An excellent point. I not only agree with it, I’ll go further (and I’m sure this will be an unpopular comment): is a BS in physics enough education to teach physics at the K-12 level? Is a BS in biology enough to teach HS bio?

    I’ve met enough K-12 science teachers in the last year who are teaching various principles of science incorrectly (e.g., if we successfully test theories long enough, they become laws), that I’m becoming skeptical that a BS is enough. In some ways I think teaching science at the secondary level is harder than teaching it in college, because it’s so easy to get the nuances wrong. Science is subtle. Personally, I don’t think you begin to “get” science until you start doing it, and there aren’t that many people who do real science at the undergraduate level. Some do, sure; perhaps even “many.” But how many of those end up as HS teachers…?

    I’ve got a HS Earth Science text sitting here beside me as I write this comment–there’s a lot in it that’s just f-ing wrong (regarding both science principle and geological fact). I’d put money on it that if you had 100 people with geology BS degrees review this book, most of them simply don’t know enough to be able to ferret out what’s incorrect.

    Am I applying too harsh a standard? Perhaps. I would absolutely agree that having every HS earth science teacher possess at least a BS in geology would be a dramatic improvement over the current dilema, but as long as we’re dreaming…

  75. #75 Pierce R. Butler
    December 4, 2008

    CrypticLife @ # 71: Thanks for that explanation.

    Most teachers probably have some skepticism about both approaches, and teach with an arbitrary mixture of the two.

    And many of them probably come up with some good processes that reach more students than strictly following one approach or the other could ever manage: the positive side of loosely enforced standards.

  76. #76 Funnyguts
    December 4, 2008

    I have only skimmed the thread, so I may be echoing something that has already been said. I think that the curriculum should be set at the school level, rather than at state or national. A well-made curriculum shouldn’t be a list of facts and concepts a student must learn, but should be a framework that allows students to use their own interests and understanding to explore the world. Children will have curiosities and questions about both evolution, creationism, religion and science, and there’s no reason not to explore them.

    That’s not to say that students get to believe whatever they want to believe. Teachers need to challenge students to think beyond the things they believe and reach out for new understanding. Ideally, a creationist student will be able to explore evolution properly and understand how it works, and a student that supports evolution will be able to truly understand why evolution is correct.

    I probably didn’t do too great a job explaining this, but I think that this would be a better way to help end creationist nonsense instead of simply saying why evolution is true.

  77. #77 Funnyguts
    December 4, 2008

    @Josh #74:

    I’m actually double-majoring in education studies and psychology (at my college majoring in a field and at least minoring in education is required to do secondary education stuff) and I think that any teacher (at least for secondary) has to have both strong credentials both in the field(s) they want to teach in as well as education. The problem is that few people want to do both. If I’m getting a psychology degree (and wasn’t planning on using it to further my understanding of education issues) then why don’t I just go and be an “actual” psychologist instead of a low-paid high school teacher who will probably never get to do any major experimenting or anything interesting?

    I think that one possibility is to encourage more teachers to work on things that interest them outside of the classroom, allowing more actual scientists to come down to the high school level and teach there. It would also be beneficial for the students to have a teacher who actually experiments, publishes, and continues to learn.

  78. #78 Josh
    December 4, 2008

    Funny, good points all.

    I think that one possibility is to encourage more teachers to work on things that interest them outside of the classroom, allowing more actual scientists to come down to the high school level and teach there. It would also be beneficial for the students to have a teacher who actually experiments, publishes, and continues to learn.

    I like this too, though it will be difficult to achieve, for a number of reasons (difficulty in getting research time/money while a HS teacher being one).

  79. #79 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    “When you have 12.5% of US teachers who are creationists and 25% who think its reasonable to teach both evolution and intelligent design it is pointless window-dressing to simply change the science standards while ignoring the fact that the current level of bad teachers render the whole exercise moot.”- Sigmund #18

    Well, that will be impossible under our new evil regime ;) We would need to make sure that this gets momentum. Indeed, nothing could require phayngulation More than this!

    “One of the best math teacher I ever had was one of the most creationist nutcase believer I ever met.”-negentropyeater #47

    So was mine, which is why Calculus is kicking my ass. *roll* Agreed, however, that they aren’t banned from Teaching period. The creationists who have mastered doublethink can be trusted to teach languages, art (Though it sadens me to think of yet Another generation paining white Jesus’ all over the place; maybe something like what Wyland does) coach sports(but NO catholics aha ha ha), ect.

    “I’m rather surprised to see that only two posters have addressed the fact that administrations change.”-Ibid #48
    Which is why i noted that America changes, people are moving away from their religions, and that means that this would likely be a permenant change. The Republicans have no power without the Middle, without reasoned people. All they have is a small base (admittedly far from small Enough) of xenophobic dumbfucks. Sorry BobC, you apparently are a xenophobe as well, which is something you ought to note and give careful thought to. We can’t all be a brazen as Bill Maher and get away with it.

    “sin taxes”–Why aren’t they good? related: prostitution ought to be legalized. There’s good money in it. Sin tax the hell out of it is you want, that bothers me none. People ought to realize that politics is about Using your enemies, not destroying them- “keep your freinds close, but your enemies closer.” Anyway, back to the issues…

    Janine #51: “Some of those beasties may have been very large but they were oh so sensitive.”

    I read a piece on that which goes through the facts and it shows that ice ages usually ended in disaster for big animals (giant sloths, dire wolves, Bigger bears, ect); bad news: it was written by Robert W felix. It was called “fatal flaw”.

    “The concept of a National Standardised Educational System pretty much exists in France since 1802, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte.”- negentropyeater #67

    Napoleon=awesome. OK, now to see how many more comments i have to read since this took so long.

  80. #80 Greg R.
    December 4, 2008

    I voted and posted about it on our atheist group’s website.

  81. #81 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    “Ideally, a creationist student will be able to explore evolution properly and understand how it works, and a student that supports evolution will be able to truly understand why evolution is correct.”-Funny

    Ideally, psuedoscience will be stamped out. Creationism ought not to be supported even indirectly. Agreed, it is nonsense, but how is what you are saying going to counteract that? You send the kid home with an F and see what happens.
    I still beleive what prof MTH was saying is glosest to the pin. You can’t insist that there isn’t a set of scientific principles and facts that need to be taught. That…is just plain wrong.

  82. #82 LM
    December 4, 2008

    There already ARE national science standards…..

  83. #83 wombat
    December 4, 2008

    A national database of accredited schools does not equal a uniform national system of accreditation. It’s really not much more than a collection of schools from state and non-governmental non-profits like the one you linked. From their website:

    “The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two Commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits, and thereby grants membership in the Commission and in the North Central Association, to degree-granting educational institutions in the North Central region: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

    HLC is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ”

    So they are recognized by the federal government but not a part of it. And they are only in the business of accrediting institutions from the states listed.

    negentropyeater,

    If the standards would be set by a governmental agency, that agency would exist under the Executive branch of the government and therefore would be under the President. The Secretary of Education is essentially the head of the Department of Education. Now there are obviously many employees who work in the department that are career and not elected individuals, something like setting policy would almost always be in the hands of appointed individuals. In short, if it was a federal effort, the people involved would be either directly or indirectly appointed by the office of the President.

  84. #84 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Children will have curiosities and questions about both evolution, creationism, religion and science, and there’s no reason not to explore them.

    Yes a course in Bible and Creationist studies that completely exposes the nonsencity and childishnesh of the myths and beliefs of religions would seem very very apporpriate in America.
    A sort of bullshit preparation programme. Learn how to tell what’s bullshit. Seems useful in this world where the powers in charge, the mainstream media, the super rich, and religion, have all an interest in making sure that the majority of the population remains as docile as possible and that their critical reasoning abilities not be developped much.

    A kind of acceleration course on how to get ready for the 21st century.

    No, that would be a problem, if too many people would start becoming critical, if too many people would stop rationalizing inequalities with the help of these crazy myths, then the unbearable level of inequality would become too apparent. In the current economic context, which can easily get much worse if this recession becomes a very long one, then the pressure cooker that is the USofA, could possibly explode.

  85. #85 Miko
    December 4, 2008

    This is the Creationists dream come true: they differ only in that they want to make sure they’re the ones who writes the standards. But after all, why should we pursue a strategy whereby we win because our ideas are better when we could just pass a law, right?

  86. #86 Emmet Caulfield
    December 4, 2008

    I really don’t understand the desire to decide curricula at a local level or the objection to a national curriculum. I’d like to see an international curriculum in areas where it’s reasonable to expect that everyone should have about the same level and kind of knowledge, say, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Clearly languages, geography, and history have more local components and are not so amenable to international standardisation, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be done where it’s reasonably feasible.

    A few years ago, I worked with a team updating the curriculum for a bachelor’s degree program in computing; we examined the model curricula from the ACM and IEEE/CS and ultimately borrowed heavily from them, noting in individual course curricula how each one related to the corresponding elements in the model curriculum. Now having the benefit of a few years of hindsight, my former colleagues tell me it has been very successful.

    If international secondary-school level STEM curricula were similarly finely structured, a derived national or local curriculum could just list the points, or ranges, covered and provide an immediate basis for international comparison.

    Seems better than having a town committee of store-owners and plumbers deciding what science to teach or, if you must have such a system, at least you can tell at-a-glance whether or not they’re covering the most important stuff.

  87. #87 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Seems better than having a town committee of store-owners and plumbers deciding what science to teach

    No, you don’t understand, it’s called FREEDOM :

    some people apparently believe that it’s best if parents can choose between Science standards defined by a committee of store-owners and plumbers of town A and those defined by a committee of hairdressers and fishmongers of town B.

    It’s always prefferable than to be imposed the science standards of big government, defined by a bunch of elitist world renowned scientists.

  88. #88 James F
    December 4, 2008

    This illustrates why national science standards are a good idea. Have the National Academy of Sciences serve as official advisors; the NAS was created to advise the nation on science, engineering, and medicine in the first place. Creation pseudoscience supporters never produce actual scientific research, so there’s no way they can sway the NAS.

  89. #89 Mark
    December 4, 2008

    Seems to me that every biology textbook should begin with the sentence “Biology is the study of evolution.”

  90. #90 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    “Seems to me that every biology textbook should begin with the sentence ‘Biology is the study of evolution.'”

    And the next sentance would be “Here’s why:

    * Natural Selection Ch.2
    * Primer on Molecular Evolution Ch.3
    *Historical biology (with slamming dismissals of Creo/ID agendas) Ch.4
    *Basics of Taxonomy Ch.5
    *…ec al (i know, it plainly shows my layman status- i graduated from a Private Christian School, sorry) Ch.6-end

    But such a move is begging the creationists of the world to unite and bomb laboratories all over the world, slam passenger jets into the dirt above LHC, and all the usual nastiness…

  91. #91 IST
    December 4, 2008

    Are you all aware that these sorts of things have been written? soil.gsfc.nasa.gov/state/nation.htm

    I couldn’t find a better link, but an attempt and NSES was published by the National Science Teacher’s Association in 1996. During my education courses, we were required to show alignment with the national curriculum. Granted, there are no teeth in any sort of enforcement, so that would be the need, rather than the standards themselves, and they could always use revision. I’d personally like to see someone sponsored by NSF or AAAS to write some.

  92. #92 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    I don’t really see how being a creationist would automatically mean that a teacher is incompetent to teach anything, be it English, French, Art, or Mathematics.

    What student would volunteer to have an idiot as a teacher?

    Also, why would anyone want to defend the right of an idiot to teach anything?

    Or perhaps some people here think it’s perfectly normal to believe a god fairy magically created people.

    I don’t see much difference between a creationist and a person who thinks creationists should be allowed to be teachers. Anyone who sucks up to creationist teachers is part of the problem.

  93. #93 RickrOll
    December 4, 2008

    Drama teacher can be idiots, because that probly gives more flair to thier performances.
    Art teachers bullshit what they say all the time anyway, who’s to tell the difference?
    Language is a singular point of idiocy because it is so imprecise, largely redundant, and highly denegrated. An idiot can do many things, besides merely be an idiot. You take idiots with a lot of “Bad faith” as Sarte would say, BobC.

  94. #94 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    In America there is a Christian war against science education. I noticed the Christians are winning this war. They must be winning because the American population is almost as scientifically illiterate as the Muslim countries. So why not fight back against the Christian theocrats, instead of sucking up to them? Creationism is a mental illness. Should mentally ill people be allowed to teach young students? I don’t think so.

  95. #95 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    Also, why would anyone want to defend the right of an idiot to teach anything?

    Because some people may be idiot and ignorant in some areas and not in other ones. You’d want to avoid that he teaches in those areas where he’s idiot and ignorant though.
    If he’s an idiot and ignorant of everything, then…

    Or perhaps some people here think it’s perfectly normal to believe a god fairy magically created people.

    “Normal” isn’t the right word here. But I do think it’s very “easy” to believe in those myths.

    I don’t see much difference between a creationist and a person who thinks creationists should be allowed to be teachers.

    Problem with your brand of lunacy is that, if neither creationists nor those who think they should be allowed to teach weren’t allowed to teach, there would hardly be anybody left to teach !

  96. #96 Lockwood
    December 4, 2008

    We have a set of National Standards. From the NRC:

    Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the interactions of (1) the potential for a species to increase its numbers, (2) the genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of the resources required for life, and (4) the ensuring selection by the environment of those offspring better able to survive and leave offspring.

    The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with life forms.

    Natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms.

    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4962&page=185

    It’s frustrating and infuriating that the Mighty scientists, who are so certain their knowledge is going to save the world by educatin’ the po, po masses, never bother to take a single education class. And every time “an expert” has hired me to consult on an education project, it’s merely a formality required by the granting agency. They have their own ideas ’bout how the educatin’s gonna be done, and none of the darned educators is gonna shake him out of his butt-ignorance.

    Sound familiar?

    I have taken years of science classes, worked for years in research situations, and spent years learning about and trying to promote science education. On the one hand, we have the fundies who figure the bible answers all questions, on the other we have the scientists who figure their research answers all questions. But just science research. Wouldn’t want that education research to confuse us.

    And students are ignorant. Happy?

    And by the way… we actually have two sets of Science Standards, which are by and large the same. The other, which I actually like better, was done by AAAS. Any of you all heard of them? Nahhh… you might actually have to learn something about education. Can’t have that.

    http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/

    And yes, both are free, without registration, online.

  97. #97 BobC
    December 4, 2008

    But I do think it’s very “easy” to believe in those myths.

    Really? It would be impossible for me to believe a fairy waved its magic wand to poof creatures into existence. To believe this childish nonsense a person has to extremely gullible, insane, and stupid. Not the qualities I would be looking for in a teacher if I was a student.

    Problem with your brand of lunacy is that, if neither creationists nor those who think they should be allowed to teach weren’t allowed to teach, there would hardly be anybody left to teach !

    My brand of lunacy? I’m a lunatic because I’m not interested in sucking up to religious insanity?

    I only suggested that it’s not fair to students to have an idiot teacher. Perhaps you think creationists are perfectly normal. I disagree. If a teacher admits to being a creationist, that teacher is admitting he or she is an idiot who should not be allowed near other people’s children.

  98. #98 negentropyeater
    December 4, 2008

    BobC,

    I wouldn’t trust a creationist of being a good Science teacher for my Children. Apart from that, I think some of the blanket statements you are making are very childish.

    I’m a lunatic because I’m not interested in sucking up to religious insanity?

    No, you’re a lunatic because you continue to affirm things that are completely contrary to evidence, such as a creationist can’t be a good teacher for anything whatsoever.

  99. #99 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 4, 2008

    That and the strangely authoritarian and occasionally hinting on violent ways you say things should be dealt with.

  100. #100 Graculus
    December 4, 2008

    Art teachers bullshit what they say all the time anyway, who’s to tell the difference?

    Get stuffed.

  101. #101 RickrOll
    December 5, 2008

    “Or perhaps some people here think it’s perfectly normal to believe a god fairy magically created people.”

    Actually, it is ‘normal’, blithering inasanity though it is. It was pointed out elsewhere that their whole religion was based utterly upon insanity (see the fall of Satan and A&E- both were utterly incapable of making a “good” decision based upon prior knowledge). All the people in the world fear death, and fear is in almost all cases the basis of irrationality, which can overturn that fear. Interestingly, when one lies constantly to oneself about what is evident, then perceptual reality does conform to that ideal. Normal psychology. Hell, normal is boring anyway.

    BobC.

    Drop it.

    The people who always seek to redifine “normality” are often projecting (in theists’ cases, their irrationality beliefs and manic xenophobia), but you are behaving exactly in the same pattern as they are, merely in reverse. Why should we consider you any less suspect than them? “Not God” isn’t worthy of your protection or praise

    “Art teachers bullshit what they say all the time anyway, who’s to tell the difference?”

    “Get stuffed.”- Graculus

    Well, i can’t make everyone happy. But i feel you missed my deeper point.

  102. #102 Walton
    December 5, 2008

    negentropyeater at #67: The concept of a National Standardised Educational System pretty much exists in France since 1802, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Yes, such a good role model… a crazed dictator who squandered much blood and treasure invading half of Europe.

    Before you point it out, I know this is an ad hominem argument as regards the benefits of a national curriculum. But I think it’s all, actually, part of the same thing. Human history shows, consistently, that the greatest danger on earth is over-mighty government. Most of the human-created suffering and disaster in history has been inflicted, directly or indirectly, by governments – from the Nazis, to the Communists, to the Taliban. But it is not only dictatorships which cause harm. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and a well-intentioned, democratically elected government can still cause massive harm inadvertently, once it arrogates too much power to itself. The most destructive and harmful administration in modern British history was the 1945 Attlee government – not because they were bad, corrupt or even particularly incompetent (they weren’t), but because, with their grandiose, albeit well-intentioned, socialist schemes and their vast expansion of government meddling in the economy, they laid the foundations for the disastrous post-war socialist experiment that, in the 1970s, nearly brought Britain to its knees.

    Why am I talking about this? To illustrate that we should fear an expansion of government power more than anything else. I hate creationism and I am against teaching it in schools. But I would rather see every child in America taught creationism, than see America fall under the sway of bigger and more centralised government. America’s greatest strength is its decentralised, limited political system, which safeguards liberty, promotes localism and prevents central government from arrogating power to itself and trampling on individual liberties.

    Imagine your dream is fulfilled – a centralised set of education standards is imposed by the federal government on all the states, using indirect coercive mechanisms such as conditional grants. The teaching of creationism is eliminated. So far, so good… but then the political climate shifts, and a hardline religious-right administration comes to power. They use the new federal power you’ve created to impose the teaching of creationism on every child in America. (Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that they’ve also succeeded in packing the Supreme Court so as to avoid this being struck down under the First Amendment.) If this happened, I suspect you would be the ones calling for less federal power and more decentralisation.

    I, on the other hand, am consistent. I will always oppose more centralised power, whatever that power is intended to be used for.

  103. #103 John Morales
    December 5, 2008

    Walton,

    I, on the other hand, am consistent. I will always oppose more centralised power, whatever that power is intended to be used for.

    Which indicates you consider enforceable standards worthy of opposition the more centralised they become.

    Do you therefore consider federal and state law should both be abolished, in favour of borough-level council by-laws?
    If not, what is the qualitative difference that is of significance?

  104. #104 RickrOll
    December 5, 2008

    Walton, stuff it. You offered up not one peice of evidence for you claims yet again, and you expect there to be some sort of concent to your idealougue. We already went over the problem of the “magic Market hand” and how it realates to reality. How is big government any less dangerous and destructive than big business Walton?

    And for the record, this isn’t about the economy, it’s about education. What you propose as a hypothetical is the same as suggesting that a future leader will bring about Jim Crow again by implementing the same exact methods you describe. No one will allow that. That President would be impeached, no questions asked. And what makes you think Congress would even be able to devise such a bill without it being a huge problem. Your hypothetical is not workable.

  105. #105 Walton
    December 5, 2008

    How is big government any less dangerous and destructive than big business Walton?

    That’s the easiest question in the world. Big government differs from big business in one crucial respect: it has the right to use the power of law – backed, ultimately, by coercive force – to impose its beliefs and objectives on others. It also cannot, and does not, permit direct competition. Essentially, other than emigration (which isn’t even allowed in some countries), we have no option but to obey the whims of our government.

    In contrast, big business does not have that power. It cannot legitimately use coercive force to achieve its objectives (unless government gives it the power to do so). It is also subject to competition from other big business, and cannot forcibly prevent customers from going elsewhere. Essentially, therefore, big business has far fewer tools in its arsenal to force people to comply with its wishes.

  106. #106 John Morales
    December 5, 2008

    Walton,

    Big government differs from big business in one crucial respect: it has the right to use the power of law – backed, ultimately, by coercive force – to impose its beliefs and objectives on others.

    Is that what you consider the signifier (power of coertion) is?

    One would imagine big business, much as big government, means more centralisation.

  107. #107 IST
    December 5, 2008

    @ Lockwood:

    Did you bother to read my post before ranting? or were you echoing? Yes, the entire discussion here shows a lack of knowledge of education.

    As for ed. research… which portion did you mean? I’ve read a number of education research journals (one of my Master’s degrees is in Sci Ed, the other is Bio), and found the methodology to be questionable at best for a good deal of what passes for research. The people conducting it are rarely able to isolate variables, and even more rarely bother to even attempt to do so. I agree that someone with NO knowledge of education being used as an ‘expert’ on projects is a poor idea because they presumably don’t have an understanding of developmental psych either, or of which teaching methods are shown to be effective (interestingly, if you examine the DirectInstruction/Inquiry split when it comes to acheivement, they’re about even). I disagree that they would be a poor choice to write science standards. If we’re looking for what content should be covered, rather than HOW that content should be covered, people actually working in the sciences would be the best choice to determine what needs to be taught at the K-12 level. Those with a background in education and only education, from my experience (yes, not the best evidence, I know), don’t have as solid a grounding in the science itself as would be necessary to determine what needs to be taught.

  108. #108 Graculus
    December 5, 2008

    Well, i can’t make everyone happy. But i feel you missed my deeper point.

    You had a deeper point than a gratuitous swipe at teaching the arts? Where?

  109. #109 RickrOll
    December 5, 2008

    my deeper point, Graculus, was that the arts are a subjective subject. Self expression- if that isn’t 80% BS then i don’t know what is. Naturally, i consider myself equally suspect.
    I am a fan of art and artists, but taking oneself too seriously is never going to be high on my proirity list. There is a lot in art that speaks to the merits of egocentrism. But as such, it elegantly portrays the myriad of perspectives in society, one of its key functions. Art is that which is constructed specifically to illicit response. If art itself isn’t gratuity, then i must have missed something. But then i don’t consider gratuity a sin, mind you.
    /stops digging
    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” i must remind you.

  110. #110 Graculus
    December 5, 2008

    my deeper point, Graculus, was that the arts are a subjective subject. Self expression- if that isn’t 80% BS then i don’t know what is.

    1) At the HS level a large part of what is taught in art is completely and ruthlesly non-subjective.

    2) Doing something that is “subjective” well is harder in many ways than doing something that is not “subjective” well.

    3) That you do not realize how much art teaching involves very objective things, and that you dismiss it as BS says a great deal about you, but not about art teaching.

  111. #111 Rich Baldwin
    December 5, 2008

    The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has proposed national science standards for education. See

    http://www.nsta.org/publications/nses.aspx

    In the NSTA standards, evolution is among the unifying concepts and processes of science.

    The NSTA also dedicates a page to evolution teaching resources:

    http://www.nsta.org/publications/evolution.aspx?lid=tnav

    And has this position statement on the teaching of evolution:

    http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/evolution.aspx

  112. #112 mwarner1968
    December 6, 2008

    I am a little confused. We (science teachers) have national standards, the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) created them, http://www.project2061.org/ and my state, (Colorado) has pretty much adopted the national standards. The NSTA also has standards as pointed out above. Although the E word took a while to make it in. It seem to me to be a waste of resources to make new standards when most of the work has been done. Is this a call for the Feds to adopt the standards? Maybe work it into NCLB? Great idea, but right now science scores do not count toward a schools AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) so until that changes, science will not have top priority like reading, writing and math, subjects whose scores do count toward AYP.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.