Some religious right leaders believe that public schools are “indoctrination” centers run by godless liberals and that the US Department of Education needs to be abolished to pave the way for Judeo-Christian based education. They are opposed to the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools, with some claiming that the theory of evolution is an “atheistic religion” and others simply calling evolution a wild-eyed “theory” with no basis in fact . They choose to ignore the scientific definition of a theory — a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.
An overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts evolution as the dominant scientific theory of biological origin but a number of state Republican platforms, echoing the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists, say that the “controversy” about evolution should be taught in public schools. In fact, our review of Republican platforms indicates that more than 1 out of 5 state Republican parties believe that creationism and/or intelligent design should be taught as science. Out of the 32 platforms reviewed, 8 supported the notion that creationism/intelligent design had a place in science classes, with no reprisal.[stextbox id="info" caption="This story is part of an 8-part series…"]
(7) With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).
Source materials (links to quoted materials).[/stextbox]
Diminishing Standards and "Indoctrination."
Along with the erosion of science, state GOP parties appear to call for the erosion of standards in education. For instance, the Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming Republican Party platforms all call for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. According to the government's website, the Department of Education was created in 1980 to "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access."
Texas specifically calls for the elimination of educational standards in private education and critical thinking in public education:
Private Education – We believe that parents and legal guardians may choose to educate their children in private schools to include, but not limited to, home schools and parochial schools without government interference, through definition, regulation, accreditation, licensing, or testing.
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
Echoing the sentiments of Sen. Rick Santorum during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, the State of Washington’s Republicans allude that higher education serves to “indoctrinate” students:
Colleges and universities should focus on promoting academic freedom by emphasizing courses that promote understanding and practical application of each discipline and avoid indoctrination and political correctness.
Teaching the Controversy.
State Republican platforms that specifically state that teachers should be able to teach creationism or intelligent design in science classes include:
- North Dakota;
- Oklahoma; and
Missouri and Wisconsin Republicans think that the local school boards should have discretion about whether they should teach “the controversy.”
Indepth Review of State GOP Platforms on Creationism/Intelligent Design.
In Subsection III.E of its 2010 platform, Alaskan Republicans state:
We support teaching various models and theories for the origins of life and our universe, including Creation Science or Intelligent Design. If evolution outside a species (macro-evolution) is taught, evidence disputing the theory should also be presented.
Iowa’s Republican platform misrepresents the definition of a scientific theory and also claims that global warming is based on fraudulent science:
6.20 We support a balanced presentation of creationism and evolution in public schools. We believe that textbooks and teachers should clarify that Darwinian evolution is only a theory and not scientific fact. [pullquote] We believe that textbooks and teachers should clarify that Darwinian evolution is only a theory and not scientific fact.[/pullquote]
6.21 We recommend that tax-funded school libraries include intelligent design and creationism materials on their bookshelves.
9.2 We believe that claims of human-caused global warming are based on fraudulent, inaccurate information and that legislation and policy based on this information is detrimental to the wellbeing of the United States. We deplore extremist scare tactics not based on scientific evidence. We recognize it as a plan to take our freedoms and liberties away from the people through legislation.
9.3 We call for closing government branches, offices, and agencies that strip us of economic prosperity in the name of saving the environment. We should eliminate policies and rules related to this.
The Minnesota Republican platform states:
We should continue to encourage the voluntary expression of religious beliefs and traditions of students. Specifically, educators who discuss creation science should be protected from disciplinary action and science standards should recognize that there is controversy pertaining to the theory of evolution.
The Missouri GOP’s draft platform calls for “Empowering local school districts to determine how best to handle the teaching of creationism and the theory of evolution.”
North Dakota Republicans passed Resolution Number 15: Origin of Life, in 2012:
WHEREAS: There is scientific evidence and opinion for and against the theory of evolution and other theories about the origin of life, such as intelligent design theory; and
WHEREAS: A person's beliefs about the origins of life have a great influence on their worldview;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: The North Dakota Republican Party supports the rights of teachers to teach and discuss the scientific evidence for and against multiple theories of the origin of life, including intelligent design and evolution.
The 2011 platform of the Republican Party of Oklahoma states in its section on education:
4. We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught, both should receive equal funding, class time, and material. [pullquote]We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught, both should receive equal funding, class time, and material. [/pullquote] Teachers should have the freedom to cover creation science without fear of intimidation or reprimand.
The Texas Republican Party, in its 2012 platform, characterized the theory of evolution as a “controversial theory” and implied that creationism is a legitimate scientific theory:
Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.
The Wisconsin GOP’s platform boldly states that, “We believe public schools should develop curriculum which is content rich, fact-based and encourages critical thinking,” but then adds in a resolution:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in convention assembled, endorses that the U. S. Department of Education should be abolished, leaving education decision making at the state, local or personal level, urges legislation adopting alternative standards for teacher licensing that do not require a degree in education or student-teaching experience but have practical expert experience in a given subject area as determined by local school boards, and believes that school boards should have discretion as to the teaching of intelligent design within their districts.
Related Sections in this Story:
- Church, state, and an overview of state Republican platform trends.
- Our godly heritage and religious liberty.
- Our patriotic Christian nation, from K-12.
- More than 1 in 5 Republican parties agree: Creationism should be taught as science.
- God bless the zygotes.
- The gays and minorities must be marginalized to save America!
- With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).
- Getting America back on track with faith-based programs.
- Source materials (links to quoted materials).