Clearly, The Most Important Thing We Can Do Is Teach Tennessee's Kids How to Use the Internet



I read this article in the Times Free Press about what is actually going on in Tennessee's classrooms when it comes to teaching science. I appreciate that the point of the article is that legislators made a huge fuss and embarrassed the governor with a piece of legislation that literally may not do anything.

There are two things I want to point out to you.


“We don’t even call it evolution. We call it genetic change,” said Donna Sellers, lead teacher in the math, technology and science academy at Central High School. “Evolution is when a bacteria becomes resistant to an antibiotic. It’s how the woolly mammoth became extinct and how the horses used to be smaller. It’s sub-breeds of dogs. It has nothing to do with whether man was once a monkey.” [emphasis mine]

There are only two choices here. Either Sellers doesn't know what evolution is, yet has somehow become lead science teacher at this school, which is frightening — or she assumes parents in her community are too stupid to know that the same mechanism that makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics and changes animals' shapes and sizes also changed us from one kind of ape-like thing into this kind of ape-like thing, so she can just claim they're different processes. That's also a little frightening. (Woolly mammoths went extinct due to a combination of climate change and humans hunting them, so I'm not sure what she thinks that has to do with evolution. Woolly mammoths didn't cease to exist because they evolved into something else.)


Evolution is mentioned only a few times among the dozens of science standards teachers must cover in class, documents show.

“With as much as they have to teach and the high-stakes accountability, there is little time to teach anything else,” said Jamie Parris, Hamilton County Schools director of secondary math and science.

Oh Lord, Tennessee. The theory of evolution is central to the study of biology. It is a central tenet of science. It's the scientific way we understand how life works. If your kids don't come out of high school having a basic understanding of evolution (and gravity, but let's not get distracted), your "high-stakes accountability" is a joke.

It is a complete and utter abdication of your responsibility as a science teacher to your students — who need to come out of high school understanding very basic scientific concepts — to not teach them evolution, to lie about what evolution is, or to act like there are other scientific things that are somehow more important.

Children of Tennessee in public schools, I have bad news. If you don't supplement your education yourselves, you are going to be in big trouble. Get on the Internet. Read as much as you can. Ask questions. Assume you're being bullshitted by the people in authority over you, because, honestly, it looks like you are.

You deserve better, but it is on you to try to fix things for yourselves. Because obviously your state isn't going to do it.

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