Monday, February 25, 2013

Education is not 'OK' in OK.

The Flintstones are property of Hanna Barbera

It seems that Oklahoma has had enough of their horrid science and math ranking. In 2011, Oklahoma ranked 42nd out of fifty states in science and math education. Well all signs point to Oklahoma not being satisfied with 42nd place. By my calculations, their shooting for 50th place! On Feb. 19th, Oklahoma actually passed a bill (HB1874) that makes it illegal to fail a student that argues that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Yes, I said that the state of Oklahoma is protecting the grades of students that view The Flintstones as if it was a documentary! Here's what the bill says:

Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of
course materials, but no student in any public school or institution
shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a
particular position on scientific theories.

So let me get this straight... If a kid holds to belief in a geocentric solar system, can they be docked points if they answer that the Sun orbits the Earth on a test? What if they think the Earth is flat? What it they contend that rotting meat produces maggots as was once thought?   Well, according to this excerpt, they can't be penalized. So if they get the answer wrong, they can't have marked wrong because they don't personally think it's wrong? If only real life was that easy!  But as with most laws, it's not very clear, because it goes on to say:
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to exempt students from learning,
understanding and being tested on curriculum as prescribed by state
and local education standards
 Okay... so they CAN'T be penalized, but it also ISN'T an exemption from the curriculum... Contradiction much? Ah, but then you have to look at the fact that the bill also grants teachers the ability to teach the strengths and weaknesses of any 'controversial' scientific theories such as (but not restricted to) evolution, global warming, and cloning. Considering that there are NO weaknesses to the theory of evolution and you soon realize that this is yet another anti-science bill being masqueraded as an 'Academic Freedom Act'. This bill basically allows the teaching and entertainment of whatever the teacher and kids personally believe. Sorry, but protecting scientific illiteracy is no protecting academic freedom. If you don't think evolution happened, then you are quite simply wrong, and in all likelihood, willfully ignorant as well. If state on a science test that you think humans and dinosaurs coexisted, they enjoy zero points on that question. I don't care if you think that's what happened any more than if you think the CSA won the American Civil War, or if you believe that Germany won WWII. You are laughably wrong and deserve no credit in that question. Now, I don't think a student should be failed outright just for their beliefs. But if their beliefs are scientifically wrong, and the answer in kind, their scores will quickly catch up with them.

All I see here is another blatant attempt by the religious right to try to indirectly fight evolution education once more. Sorry, but if you believe in a literal account of the creation story in Genesis, then you are believing something that is bat shit crazy. Sorry, my apologies... In the interest of 'Biblical correctness' that should be 'bird shit crazy', since the Bible (in all it's infinite 'wisdom') tells us that bats are in 'fact' birds... Yeah... That's a guide book I want to use for better scientific understanding. Maybe after we learn about the strange 'birds' called bats, and how the entire universe was specially created in just six days, we can also learn about four legged insects (Leviticus), four legged birds(Leviticus), that the stars are just little lights hung in the sky that can fall to Earth (Revelations) and other wonderfully 'educational' tidbits...  If you are putting your faith in the Bible for any educational information or scientific facts, then you are looking in the wrong place. And it makes me sick that elected officials continue to propagate the widespread ignorance toward science that exists in this country. Our STEM ranking is abysmal when compared to the rest of the world (17th in science and 25th in math among 34 countries). It's high time we stop pandering to the misinformed masses and start correcting these ill conceived notions and promote the teaching of cold hard scientific fact is science classes so that our county actually has a chance to improve. But continue down the road that Oklahoma is pressing down, and you can say goodbye to innovation and scientific leadership, and hello to being the laughing stock of the educated world... And that's a future I desperately want us to avoid.


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