Biology Teachers Teaching Creationism
A national survey of more than 900 public high school teachers found that only 28% of biology teachers followed the NRC recommendations to teach unifying themes. 13% are explicitly advocating creationism.
That means 60% are treading water and leaving the door open to creationism.
More high school students take biology than any other science course, the researchers write, and for about a quarter of them it will be the only science course they take. So the influence of these teachers looms large.
Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, was unsurprised by the study’s conclusions. “These kinds of data have been reported regionally, and in some cases nationally, for decades. Creationists are in the classroom, and it’s not just the South,” he said. “At least 25 percent of high school teachers in Minnesota explicitly teach creationism.”
“Students are being cheated out of a rich science education,” said Dr. Plutzer, a professor of political science at Penn State University. “We think the ‘cautious 60 percent’ represent a group of educators who, if they were better trained in science in general and in evolution in particular, would be more confident in their ability to explain controversial topics to their students, to parents, and to school board members.”
But Dr. Moore is doubtful that more education is the answer. “These courses aren’t reaching the creationists,” he said. “They already know what evolution is. They were biology majors, or former biology students. They just reject what we told them.
“With 15 to 20 percent of biology teachers teaching creationism,” he continued, “this is the biggest failure in science education. There’s no other field where teachers reject the foundations of their science like they do in biology.”