“I’m not trying to get religion in schools”

Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab takes a firm stance for science education and against creationism in today’s piece: Why are we still debating evolution in education? Florida Citizens for Science gets a mention at the end!

I called [new Florida Board of Education member Andy] Tuck to find out where he stood.

“I’m not an evangelical right-winger,” he told me. “I’m not trying to get religion in schools.”


Because Florida wasted enough time six years ago debating and then watering down its first-ever standard for teaching evolution.

That’s like debating the law of gravity or whether the Earth orbits the sun.

There’s irrefutable evidence that evolution is the underlying biology behind how living things develop over time.

Tuck, a citrus grower, says he agrees.

That seems like a good answer from Tuck. But keep in mind that the creationist tactic (I’m not calling Tuck a creationist, but rather referring to the general tactic used by today’s creationists) is to find some way to cast doubt on evolution in the classroom. Decades of legal losses whenever creationists have tried to outlaw evolution instruction or insert blatant creationism into the curriculum have forced them to clean up their overtly religious language. Now they want to allow teachers to spend time on “other theories” while declining to be more specific about those other theories that teachers might bring up are. They want to force a bogus disclaimer into evolution lessons that there are “strengths and weaknesses” to the theory. These are the kinds of moves Florida Citizens for Science faced in 2008 when a Board of Education member and then some lawmakers in the state legislature tried tinkering with the state science standards.  So, we can’t feel safe and comfortable when someone says “I’m not trying to get religion in schools.” We heard that over and over again in 2008. Look at what else they say. Such as this:

Tuck said his problem is that scientists can’t say for certain how the universe began.

“I guess the thing I struggle with is you’re teaching evolution to fifth-graders and you get done and one says, ‘Where did it start?’” he said. “And you say what?”

We still need to be vigilant. As Beth points out, our state science standards will be reviewed/revised sometime soon. Let’s hope for the best but plan for the worst.