When it comes to STEM education in grades K-12, one of the great failures of the U.S. educational system is the complete lack of exposure to even the basics of evolutionary biology in science courses. This isn’t just an academic debate, evolutionary biology is a key component of the biotech and genomics revolutions–as I put it, “Doing genomics without evolutionary biology is like drilling for oil with a dowser.” Yet education ‘reformers‘ are absolutely silent when it comes this massive curricular gap.
Every time I hear Arne Duncan go on about NCLB or his Race to the Top and how we ought to be promoting clever ways to give parents more choices outside the public school system in how they teach their children, so as to improve their children’s math and engineering scores, I have to wonder why he just doesn’t make moving the numbers on this chart in a more enlightened direction as a measure of what “success means.” That chart shouts “failure” when I look at [it].
After all, I’m not sure how you expect our kids to keep up with those Chinese wizards in math and science when our own kids have to suffer an existential, emotional breakdown when they’re asked to calculate how long the earth has been here…
There’s a very simple reason why Duncan doesn’t view that as a failure: the underlying assumption of educational reformers is that educational performance has little to do with curriculum, pedagogy, or resources, and everything to do with hiring and firing teachers.
Meanwhile, this is a massive educational failure no one is willing to discuss.