Brentwood resident, Robin Duntze D.V.M., said in an email to 40 South that she was dismayed to learn that all but one of the candidates in the Brentwood School Board candidates forum on Thursday supported teaching creationism in Brentwood Public schools.
(Originally published March 11.)
The majority of candidates in the forum said they supported teaching both creationism and evolution, when asked.
Lindsay Spencer was the only one who said teaching should be exclusively “science-based.” She concluded, “Teach evolution.”
Duntze said she has been a Brentwood resident since 1989; both her sons attended Brentwood schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. She sent an open letter to the candidates, encouraging them to rethink their position.
Creationism Has No Place In Public Schools
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Evolution is a fact; there is no scientific debate about the fundamentals of evolution. Unfortunately, fewer than 50 percent of American adults know that humans developed from earlier species. Many Americans consider evolution to be a threat to their personal or religious beliefs. The media has contributed to the problem by presenting evolutionary theory as controversial, and by false equivalency. Approximately 95 percent of the scientific community and academia support evolutionary theory; there is no controversy. Darwin’s hypothesis has stood the test of time and modern genetic science has confirmed his elegant theory.
Teaching creationism or intelligent design harms students because it creates confusion about established scientific fact. It is one of the reasons that 15-year-olds in the United States placed 24th out of 71 counties on the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test of science education in 2015. Moreover, teaching creationism would make Brentwood School District vulnerable to lawsuits. In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the United States Supreme Court determined that the teaching of creationism violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it was intended to advance a specific religion. In Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., in 2004, the Supreme Court determined that intelligent design theory is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy of “teaching the controversy” also violated the Establishment Clause of the First amendment.
In conclusion, I would encourage the school board members who favor teaching creationism to rethink their position. Teaching creationism would be doing a disservice to Brentwood students by muddying their science education. It is not “doctrinaire” to insist that 2+2 = 4 instead of 5, nor is it “doctrinaire” to teach evolution. We need our students to have mastery of scientific concepts in a future where STEM careers are increasingly important.
As John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things: and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”