We're semi-liveblogging the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st Century -- today's meeting of the State Board of Education, which is discussing science standards. Here's the first report:
Board member Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands said she "loves high school students." She really loves them when they support loose interpretations of evolution in schools.
Christopher Mittal, a senior at Middle Christian School in San Antonio, skipped school today to tell the board that it's OK for a science nerd to discuss the weaknesses of evolution. Mittal told me it's just so important to him to allow openness and questioning in the classroom, and also reminded me he's "a bit of a science nerd," in case I didn't hear him say it during the testimony.
He didn't say it was an excuse to get out of P.E. but I could see it in his eyes. He said he was recently at a science fair and heard some professors plotting ways to "shake students' faith in anything other than strict evolution." It pissed him off.
Cargill asked Mittal if he thinks he and his buddies are smart enough to handle hearing different sides to evolutionary theory (breaking down under the intense grilling, he admitted it was so). She then asked whether discussing the weaknesses of evolution will compromise his credibility in college.
"Not at all!" he said.
If he can hear about the imperfections of evolution in his private, Christian school, why shouldn't the public school kids have the same privileges? Such elitism.
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Next came the real shocker. Loresa Loftin with the Science Teachers Association of Texas told the board that in the minds of some Texas 5th-graders, the moon shrinks when it's in the crescent phase and people have walked on the sun. She's amazed that elementary-school students use phones with satellite technology but have no concept of what the hell a satellite even is, let along the fact that poor Pluto was ousted from the planets. (Hold up. I'm still stuck on elementary school kids having satellite phones.)
Right now, elementary education skips the whole concept of planets altogether. I can't believe it! How could you go to the 7th grade without painting those Styrofoam balls! It's an essential right of passage!
There is an obvious solution here. Send them all to Middle Christian School in San Antonio, where they can become true science nerds.
-- Karie Meltzer