CA school district sued for violating civil rights in evolution controversy

A California school district has been sued in federal court for allegedly violating a parent’s civil rights during a controversy over how to teach evolution. For more than a year, Larry Caldwell tried to get the Roseville Joint Union High School District outside of Sacramento to consider changing how it taught the theory of evolution in its biology classes. Caldwell, who has three children, says he wanted the district to correct factual errors in its biology textbooks as well as to introduce students to some scientific criticisms of modern evolutionary theory. Caldwell did not propose that the district teach creationism or alternatives to evolution. The Roseville district ultimately rejected Caldwell’s recommendations. But in the process of trying to scuttle his Read More ›

Nightline exposes that local evolution fights are often hurtful

Sadness is the emotion that ABC’s Nightline tried to inculcate last night with its “War in Dover” episode and, if my reactions are any judge, they succeeded. First is the sadness one feels for all the good people of Dover who have behaved badly toward one another. John Donvan showed that people in that little town really are afraid to talk to one another, and that everything anyone says has to be filtered through a legal screen (perhaps we need a set of Miranda Rights from now on that will be read to citizens who presume to express themselves on public policy). Worst of all, Donvan demonstrated that any personal moral suspicion one has of his neighbor in Dover these Read More ›

AIM Zeroes in on PBS

The newest Accuracy in Media report takes PBS to task for liberal bias and viewpoint discrimination. The piece is particularly good on PBS’s deeply flawed treatment of the controversy over evolution in the public schools: Then, Moyers turned to another current topic, the ACLU’s lawsuits against school districts that want to “teach an alternative to evolution.” Romero insisted that, “teaching alternatives to evolution is about teaching religion in our public schools. And in a country as diverse as this one, and in a country where religious belief is such a core belief for so many Americans, you want to keep the government as far away as we can from involving itself in our most important and private institutions.” Romero’s statement Read More ›

After Court Ruling, Students Can STILL Think Critically

The rather confusing “[e]volution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things” language proved a primary component in the undoing of the textbook sticker at issue in Selman v. Cobb County School District–decided yesterday in an opinion handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper. Pessimism about the outcome peppered my previous post about this case (see here, where you can also find the sticker’s text). Yet, a genuine understanding of the case requires attention to the details of the Judge’s opinion, and it is important to keep in mind some of the most positive aspects of the ruling. (Important critiques of portions of the Judge’s opinion will follow in a subsequent posting, and strong Read More ›

Evolution Stickers Struck Down, but Critical Analysis Stands Up

A federal judge today ruled that the evolution stickers used in the Cobb Co., GA school district’s biology textbooks are unconstitutional. (See our press releases here and here.) In a somewhat bizarre ruling, the judge found that the stickers “fostering critical thinking” about evolution “is a clearly secular purpose.” And, the judge also found that the Cobb County school district had secular, not religious reasons for adopting a textbook sticker dealing with evolution. Yet, he somehow concludes that the “effect” of the sticker would be to advance religion. CSC associate director John West summed it up this way: “The judge rules, and repeatedly states, that there is a clear secular purpose to the sticker, and it has a legitimate secular Read More ›