OK, the title is as close to Biology as I can get this post but it’s that time of year when so many state legislatures are in session and rational thought seems the cease within the halls of elected government. Why should teachers be concerned about what goes on in their legislature? Ask our colleagues in Kansas, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. All of these states (and this list is by no means exclusive) make the news from time to time due to efforts from so called values-centered politicians to censor or distort Evolution education. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) does a wonderful job of keeping biologists and biology educators informed about such efforts. If you aren’t on their list-serve you need to join or at least check their website regularly.
But our interest in legislation should not be limited to efforts to suppress Evolution education. Every education decision is a political decision and this is true whether you teach in or are a patron of public, private or home school. All facets of the education enterprise are controlled and allowed through the political process.
So… What is loon season bringing to your state? How’s this to start the discussion? In Oklahoma, a measure is successfully making it’s way through the legislature that would make all public school districts Charter School Districts. That’s right, no state curriculum standards, no class size limitations, no due process rights for teachers, no teacher tenure, no teacher degree or certification standards… Let me state up front that I have nothing against Charter Schools and their role within the framework of a larger public school system. Nor do I have anything against a parent’s right to choose private or home school education for their child. But how do you think the Evolution battles are going to go when each of the 500 local public school boards in Oklahoma become the sole determiner of what will and what will not be taught in biology?
Not that I wish any other state ill, but please, somebody tell me there is a worse piece of state education legislation being debated this year.