E pur, si muove

You know it’s going to be a bad day when the first thing you read when you wake up is that the PA Legislature is considering a bill that reads, in part:

   Section 1.  The act of act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14),
    known as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding a
    section to read:
       Section 1516.2.  Teaching Theories on the Origin of Man and
    Earth.--(a)  In any public school instruction concerning the
    theories of the origin of man and the earth which includes the
    theory commonly known as evolution, a board of school directors
    may include, as a portion of such instruction, the theory of
    intelligent design. Upon approval of the board of school
    directors, any teacher may use supporting evidence deemed
    necessary for instruction on the theory of intelligent design.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” was over 80 years ago, but we are still having to deal with fallout from people who feel it is a cultural imperative that we raise our children to be ignorant.

So, what can you do about it? Well, if you’re a Pennsylvania resident, I think you should write your State Representative and tell them that you think this legislation is a terribly bad idea. You can find out your representative’s name and address by going to this page and typing your zip code in the box in the upper-right corner.

Here’s the letter I’m writing.

Dear [Name of Representative here]:

I’m writing to you to urge you to oppose House Bill No. 1007, which I believe will seriously compromise the quality of science education in Pennsylvania public schools.

Science is not simply the collection and categorization of facts, but is the practice of continually making observations, developing hypotheses, and then testing those hypotheses. Because Intelligent Design does not offer any empirically testable hypotheses, it is not science. Universities very actively rate school districts based on the quality of the education they provide. If Pennsylvania develops a reputation as a Commonwealth that provides a poor science education in its public schools, it will be that much harder for our children to gain admission to top Universities. This, in turn, will further degrade Pennsylvania’s job market and tax base. Pennsylvania is already having difficulty attracting and retaining young families and skilled workers. If House Bill No. 1007 passes, families that care about the quality of their childrens’ scientific education will have another reason to leave Pennsylvania.

Please help our schools stay competitive by keeping our science classes focused on science, not politics.

Very Truly Yours,

[signature]

Any readers who want to write to their Representatives should feel free to borrow from my letter, if you like. Of special interest to Western PA residents is that the sponsors of the bill include Representatives Bastian (Somerset County), Ellis (Butler County), and Petrarca (Westmoreland County). The bill has been referred to the Education committee (see below for details). I plan on sending my letter to all of the members of the committee. Perhaps you should, too. Pittsburgh readers should especially note that Representative Michael Diven and Thomas Stevenson, both members of the Education committee, are from Allegheny County.

Please contact your representatives before this gets out of the Education committee. Write them, email them, call them. Let’s stop this before it exposes Pennsylvania to national ridicule, not after.

Update: it occurs to me that there’s one other thing you can do. If you live in Pennsylvania, and you have a weblog, either link to this article or write your own article on the subject. I was shocked that this bill has gotten all the way to committee without a word in our local papers. We’ve got to shine a light into the dark corners of this legislation, and getting the word out about it will be a good first step. Thanks.

Additional Resources