The Strange Silence Of Education Reformers

Despite the ‘education reform’ movement’s fetishization of the Common Core curriculum*, they never seem to defend the integrity of school curricula. Today’s episode in non-reaction comes from Arizona (boldface mine):

Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas tapped a young-earth creationist to serve last month on a committee tasked with revising the state’s science curriculum standards on evolution.

Joseph Kezele, the president of the Arizona Origin Science Association, is a staunch believer in the idea that enough scientific evidence exists to back up the biblical story of creation. Douglas appointed him to an eight-member special working group at the Arizona Department of Education that completed a final review of the draft evolution teaching standards on August 30.

Kezele teaches biology at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix. He advocates teaching his version of “established, real science” in classrooms.

Evolution, he said, is a false explanation for life and should be taught so that students “can defend against it, if they want to.”

“I’m not saying to put the Bible into the classroom, although the real science will confirm the Bible,” Kezele told Phoenix New Times in an interview on Wednesday. “Students can draw their own conclusions when they see what the real science actually shows.”

He argued that scientific evidence supports his creationist ideas, including the claims that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs were on board Noah’s Ark.

ADE spokesperson Stefan Swiat said that Kezele was selected because of his position at Arizona Christian University. Swiat was unaware if Douglas knew that Kezele was a creationist when she selected him…

Nevertheless, as the working group reviewed the evolution language, Kezele successfully convinced other members to de-emphasize evolution in at least one instance.

The committee signed off on changing a reference to evolution as “the explanation” for the unity and diversity of all living and extinct organisms to “an” explanation.

Another committee member, University of Arizona Associate Professor William Roth, said that the panelists didn’t want to hold up the process for that detail, even though it is misleading to imply that there is an alternative explanation to life on Earth.

“In the context of science, evolution is the explanation,” Roth said.

Under Douglas, the education department has sought to downplay evolution in the state science standards, which are meant to guide teachers as they develop the core ideas of their lessons…

Kezele argued that evolution – universally accepted by the mainstream scientific community as the explanation for life on Earth – is based on mere assumptions.

He advocates for a literal interpretation of the history presented in the Bible, and claimed that all land animals, including humans and dinosaurs, were created on the sixth day when God created the universe.

Adolescent dinosaurs were present on Noah’s Ark because adult dinosaurs would have been too big, Kezele said. “Plenty of space on the Ark for dinosaurs – no problem,” Kezele said…

However, Roth found it strange that the Education Department would convene a special committee to only review the evolution standards – the reviews of the other curriculum standards were completed earlier in the summer, Roth said.

By creating a special committee with just eight members that included one creationist, Roth suggested that the Education Department gave Kezele’s views outsized influence.

As some asshole with a blog noted a few years ago:

Once again, education reformers do not care about education: if they did, they would decry creationism in the classroom. But they never do. It’s a low bar, but not incorporating sectarian dogma into a science curriculum should be something reformers and the rest of us should agree on.


Will Michelle Rhee or anyone from Students First decry the teaching of outright falsehoods? Will the leaders of the Common Core, such as David Coleman, make the obvious point that this crap doesn’t belong in a school textbook? What’s the point of having a Common Core if it’s utterly ridiculous? Will Education Secretary Arne Duncan say anything?

Of course they won’t. They have never decried creationism, climate change denialism or any other rightwing hooey. It also explains the support for charter schools: it’s easier in charter schools to use public funds to indoctrinate children with less oversight

If someone isn’t willing to defend reality in curricula, it does make you wonder what their real goals are.

*For the record, I disliked the Common Core, but have argued that using Massachusetts standards, which are more rigorous would be a good thing.

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