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Sage grass & cedars
by Darrell Thompson

Proud of Our “F” 

Recently I read a newspaper article that was quite disturbing. The article was concerning a study of our state’s science educational curriculum. In the estimation of the organization conducting the study, our state deserved an F for our educational efforts of teaching science in our schools. I just automatically cringe when I hear that my beloved state is sub par in any important study. Education is one of the important things that I wish we excelled in.

I can remember when I was in school; it was a serious thing to get an F on a report card. It was serious because it was usually met with serious consequences, like a trip to the proverbial woodshed. I’ve often wondered why our grading system used A, B, C, D and then skipped E and used F as the lowest grade obtainable. I think they went directly to F as if to a add insult to injury by correctly implying that F stood for FAILURE. An F was not just a letter grade to let you know your standing in the classroom but intended to inflict shame and disgrace at the same time.

The organization doing the study is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a private non-profit foundation interested in improving education. They sometimes do work for the government when contracted to do so. I looked them up on their website and they seem to be sincerely interested in improving the quality of education. Several ideas that they propose in their literature are good ideas and worthy of looking into. However there is an old saying that "beauty is only skin deep." Some of the Fordham Institute’s "high ideals" may cover up some of their real motives.

There are some unusual facts surrounding the institute’s final findings. There were a total of fifteen states that had failing marks according to the Institute. Thirteen of the fifteen, including Alabama, had language in their state science standards that noted that evolution was a theory and could be flawed science. The Institute claimed that a stand for or against evolution made very little difference in the final grade but consider these results. Kansas went from a C to an F by changing the wording in their standards to wording less favorable to evolution. According to the Institute’s formula, evolution accounted for only three points of a possible sixty-nine or 4.34%. I wonder how that could make an F out of a C. Maybe Fordham should put a mathematician on staff. Georgia went from an F in 2000 to B in 2005 when their standards used the word evolution instead of the phrase "change over time." The Georgia report included a warning that "intelligent design creationists" are active but haven’t succeeded in "mutilating" the standards.

In Alabama’s case, the Institute said the "most distressing" and "more serious" is the paragraph in the state standards concerning evolution. Part of that paragraph said that students should "make distinctions among the multiple meanings of evolution and wrestle with unanswered questions and unresolved problems still faced by evolutionary theory." I thought that the statement was neither an endorsement nor rebuttal of evolution or creationism (intelligent design).

Another phrase in the objectionable paragraph is that "students should distinguish between observations and assumptions used to draw conclusions."

I don’t see how this could be offensive; in fact that is one of the smartest statements that I read in any of the reports. How many of us would hire a mechanic to work on our automobile or even our lawnmower and want him to start replacing parts based on assumption rather than observation? Even more so, we would want a surgeon to operate on us basing his actions 100% on observation and zero percent assumption.

Recently in a multinational publication, there was another article detailing the decline of college students entering into the science field as compared with other nations. I recognize that we need more scientists and there may be serious consequences if the United States should fall behind the rest of the modern world in the science field. But I fail to understand why a "swallowing whole" of the evolutionary theory is necessary to excel in science.

The space program created the need for computers and data processing. The computers of that day were huge and weighed tons. Thanks to science and technology, my laptop computer weighing five pounds is faster than those computers weighing ten tons or more. This was probably accomplished without the added benefit of accepting evolutionary theories.

I obviously believe in creation rather than evolution. I’m not trying here to change anyone’s views about what they believe. We all have the right to believe what we want but recognize that mistakes and consequences are the results of believing false information in anything we do.

When I look in the mirror each morning, I’m more and more convinced of intelligent design creation. I’ll let the folks at Fordham Institute look in their mirror and consider if a single cell organism with no brain is their ancestor. For once, let’s not get too uptight about getting an F on our report card. Let’s just consider the source and accept it as a backhanded compliment.

Darrell Thompson is the manager of Lawrence County Exchange in Moulton.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006