With the recent decision of the Kansas Board of Education to allow "intelligent design" to be taught in public schools
, it can come as no surprise that fellow advocates in Colorado are preparing to press the issue here as well. For the record, the "intelligent design" movement is spearheaded by a tiny fringe element in the scientific community and a large number of primarily Christian fundamentalist lawyers, philosophers, and apologists.
As a matter of clarification, it must be noted that most mainstream churches and religious institutions generally oppose the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. Further, even most of the nation's leading evangelical universities have moved away from the "intelligent design" notion because there is very little science, but a great deal of politics behind it. ["Intelligent Design May Be Meeting Its Maker"
by Laurie Goodstein, (4 December 2005), New York Times
] This is a movement by and for the nation's most extreme fundamentalists, despite the fact that many of its leading advocates (primarily philosophers and lawyers) attempt to portray it as a non-religious "scientific" notion to the public at large. It is vital to note that neither MESIC, nor the effort to prevent "intelligent design" from being introduced in Colorado's public schools is anti-religious or anti-Christian in any way; instead, it is an effort to secure all Colorado's children the sound education they need to succeed in the modern world.
Now the "intelligent design" movement is coming to Colorado. However, the tactic is a bit different now that the movement is in the public spotlight. In Kansas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere the advocates for this notion were able to gain the traction they did because it was largely "below the radar" and the opposition - those supporting sound educational standards - found themselves fighting an improvised defense against this ideological assault on their children. With leading conservative politicians weighing in on the issue and the decision in Kansas, it is no longer possible to quietly submit the "intelligent design" notion to a school board without garnering significant attention. Therefore, we have to appreciate the subtlety of the tactic developed by Colorado State Representative Debbie Stafford (R-Aurora).
Rep. Stafford, an ordained minister, has opted to take the "intelligent design" notion to the General Assembly in the guise of a "Teacher Protection Act". Specifically, the Act, as described by Rep. Stafford, will protect teachers from sanction or censure should they choose to use the classroom to teach whatever alternative theories they happen prefer. To quote: "I support giving teachers protection so that they can bring academic information to students at all levels. ... Including other theories, that's (intelligent design) certainly one alternative theory, but it's certainly not the only alternative theory."
["State Rep.: Protect Teaching Of Intelligent Design"
by Arturo Santiago, (10 November 2005), CBS News (4 Denver)
This strategy affords the "intelligent design" movement two immediate advantages when the issue of teaching "intelligent design" follows. First, it permits the advocates of "intelligent design" to argue their position before School Board or Department of Education from a position of existing Colorado law in its favor. Secondly, it will embolden that tiny minority of the state's teachers who wish to indoctrinate their students to step forward and publicly defend the notion. It is, all said, a fairly clever strategy.
For the record, Representative Terrance Carroll (D-Denver), also an ordained minister, has already spoken out against the introduction of "intelligent design" in our public schools: "When you try to cloak an attempt to impose some sort of religious orthodoxy in the language of science, it becomes misleading and it becomes problematic, ... This is an effort to undermine science as we know it."
[ "Colorado evolution curriculum could be evolving"
by Adam Schrager, (15 August 2005), KUSA-TV (9 News)
Maintain Educational Standards In Colorado (MESIC), is a grass-roots effort to mobilize popular opposition to the notion of introducing the "intelligent design" notion in Colorado public schools. In that the legislature is not currently in session and we have been unable to locate a draft copy of Rep. Stafford's proposed bill, at this stage we have devised Phase I of our defense of educational standards.
Phase I consists of: The Petition, giving a simple and basic statement asking to maintain our current educational standards and separation between the liberal arts (including "intelligent design") and the sciences. Later, the petition will be presented to the General Assembly and other relevant bodies being utilized by the "intelligent design" advocates. The Organizational Endorsements feature allows Colorado organizations to endorse the same statement as the petition. The MESIC Blog - http://mesic1.blogspot.com, which will closely monitor and report on efforts to lower our educational standards and may serve as a useful networking and/or organizational tool for the opposition once the controversy is underway.
At present, our emphasis is on getting the petition circulated and on mobilizing those members of the community that wish to maintain Colorado's educational standards. We are also looking for early volunteers for Phase II. Once Rep. Stafford introduces her proposed legislation, we will move to Phase II, which provisionally includes: Meeting with and encouraging other state Representatives and Senators to oppose the measure. Working with academics and teacher's organizations on ways and means of registering protest of Rep. Stafford's measure. Locating and encouraging local experts in the sciences to testify and/or submit statements to the legislature in support of maintaining sound scientific standards in our schools. Organizing a grass-roots media campaign - press releases, editorials, public meetings, &c. - to stop the imposition of "intelligent design" on our schools.
We are more than open to alternative or additional suggestions and recommendations at this stage. We are also looking for volunteers before we reach Phase II. Feel free to CONTACT US
if you would like to get involved. Let's unite to defend our children's right to a sound education.