“The recent headlines were disturbing:
13% of H.S. Biology Teachers Advocate Creationism in Class
Troubling: 13% of Biology Teachers Supporting Creationism
13% of US biology teachers advocate creationism: Welcome to 2011
These articles were responding to a commentary in Science by Penn State political scientists Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer (“Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom”; 28 January 2011). Berkman and Plutzer’s research — detailed in several articles and a book–involves large surveys of science teachers. In this most recent study, 926 public high school biology teachers were surveyed, and 13 percent reported “explicitly advocat[ing] creationism or intelligent design.”
The 13 percent number is bad — 1 in 8 public school biology instructors teaches creationism. As the headlines above show, most reporting focused on this 13 percent. But Berkman and Plutzer identified an even greater problem: a “cautious 60 percent” of teachers who, while not preaching creationism, nevertheless fail to be “strong advocates for evolutionary biology.”
Berkman and Plutzer write,
The cautious 60 percent may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists.
There are more of these cautious teachers, and their reluctance to present evolution forthrightly not only impedes their students in learning biology, but also undermines understanding of the nature of science. They fail to teach evolution in the way recommended by the nation’s leading scientific organizations, such as the National Research Council — as the central, unifying principle of the life sciences.
Why is “neutrality” toward evolution such a disaster for college-bound kids?
Evolution is the foundation of biology. Just as geologists cannot decipher the earth’s features without plate tectonics, and physicists cannot understand the interaction of light and matter without quantum electrodynamics, biologists cannot explain the diversity of life on earth without evolution. Trying to teach biology without evolution is like teaching auto mechanics without discussing engines. Teachers should not be neutral toward evolution because scientists are not neutral about evolution.”
Read more at Huffington Post (Thanks Annette M)