Biology test omits creation theory, complains Kentucky educator
The whole Darwin thing can still be a tad controversial in Kentucky, a state that hosts a high-tech, Bible-centered, natural-history-style museum that asserts that the Earth is roughly 6,000 years old.
In Hart County, about an hour and 20 minutes south of Louisville, the local school superintendent is now expressing his frustration that a new state biology test is, in his opinion, treating evolution as a fact, rather than a theory.
He also charges that the test is omitting the "creation story" that cites God as the originator of the universe.
The Lexington Herald-Leader's Jim Warren reported Tuesday that Superintendent Ricky D. Line raised the objections in emails and letters to the state education commissioner and education board.
"I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point ... that we are teaching evolution ... as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us," he wrote, according to the newspaper. "My feeling is if the Commonwealth's site-based councils, school board members, superintendents and parents were questioned ... one would find this teaching contradictory to the majority's belief systems."
He may not be too far off-base with that last bit. Supporters of teaching evolution agree that many Americans have a hard time getting their heads around what Charles Darwin called his "dangerous idea."
"Overall, the nation has a big problem," Dr. Brian Alters, a professor and author of the book "Evolution in the Classroom," said in a National Institutes of Health newsletter in 2006. "Approximately half of the U.S. population thinks evolution does (or did) not occur. While 99.9% of scientists accept evolution, 40% to 50% of college students do not accept evolution and believe it to be 'just' a theory."
Terry Holliday, the state education commissioner, said the state biology test would deal with evolution as theory, not fact. Warren noted that teachers in Kentucky may discuss theories of creation other than evolution, but are not required to do so.
The test in question is one of a number of end-of-course exams mandated in a 2009 statewide educational reform package. Line was specifically concerned about a "blueprint" for the test which delineates the subject matters that would be covered in the biology test.
Teachers in his district apparently told him they would have to spend a significant amount of time on evolution in order to adequately prepare students for the test.
The superintendent remained defiantly skeptical in the face of scientific consensus, noting that it was "interesting that the great majority of scientists felt Pluto was a planet until a short time ago, and now they have totally changed that."
-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: A 2007 scene from the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. Credit: Thomas E. Witte / For The Times