It's still hard to teach evolution in too many public school classrooms

From NCSE Director Ann Reid:

So it is not enough to include evolution in state science standards, textbooks and local curricula. To ensure students learn about evolution, we first need teachers who have a confident grasp of evolutionary biology. It is a concern that only about half of the high school biology teachers surveyed held a bachelor’s degree in biology and only around 40% had taken a course specifically in evolution. Many states are incentivizing science teachers to achieve more rigorous qualifications, but it will take time to undo decades — generations even — of evolution avoidance.

The following article includes a photo of Susan Epperson and John Scopes discussing their famous trials:


@Eddie Can you weigh in here?

Its still too hard to teach the truth. to teach creationism. As long as students are denied what is talked about here on this forum then they are denied their right to education and fredom of thought/speech.
It must/should/will be a great cause in politics to once and for all overthrow state censorship on origin matters or anything in education.
yes creationism would do better but why do evolutionists think so???

Hi, Patrick. Thanks for asking me. It’s nice to get away from that other thread for a moment. Too much time spent around biologists can be bad for one’s health. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure what you’re asking for. I gather part of what is said above is that high school science teachers are often very badly prepared academically to teach science. All the information I have suggests this is true. Jay313 from BioLogos, who has taught in the schools, has described just how bad the situation is, and the stuff above confirms it.

I think this is a far more important things for American science educators to be concerned about than the specific contents of a three-week evolution unit in ninth-grade biology. How does one get qualified teachers teaching biology, chemistry, physics, etc. into the high schools? Without proper subject-specialist teachers from ninth-grade up (as one would find in every advanced country in the world outside of the USA), neither the NCSE ideal nor the Discovery ideal of how to teach evolution can be realized. If you draft the phys. ed. teacher to cover ninth-grade biology because the biology teacher has retired and no other teacher in the school knows any biology, you are going to get crappy results. And that’s what happens, I’m told, in many parts of the country, outside of the wealthy suburban areas (with their great tax bases and hence the ability to attract highly-qualified specialists in each subject).

The person teaching ninth-grade biology should have a Bachelor’s degree in biology (or maybe biochemistry), not phys. ed., physics, chemistry, geography, psychology, etc. Maybe if America could get that principle put into practice, then it could afford the luxury of wasting millions of dollars annually fighting over what the qualified biology teacher should teach in the evolution unit.


I’m probably a contrarian on that standard because I don’t always have much faith in the abilities and knowledge of a typical high school teacher based on their declared academic major from college. Instead, I favor very challenging subject-competency exams where the teacher has to demonstrate some particular level of mastery of the material (including material well beyond what is covered in that particular high school course’s science book, because I want the teacher to be much better versed than the students.) Thus, I really don’t care if the high school science teacher majored in biology, physics, or chemistry. If he/she gets a very high score on the five hour long teacher exam for the high school “Biology II” course in that state, I’d prefer that to the biology major who barely scraped by in all of his/her classes but who can claim to have passed the required minimum hours for that major.

You are probably familiar with some of the famous cases of high school history teachers (for example) who were history majors in college but who turned out to be functionally illiterate. Perhaps that doesn’t happen as much nowadays but I certainly remember some of those cases from the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Competancy/certification exams are not a perfect solution but they would help eliminate at least some of those most egregious cases.

1 Like

I agree they might be necessary sometimes, but if they are necessary, they are a sign of a bad system.

This is only a problem in the USA, because of wildly varying quality of college and university programs. In most advanced countries, where education is more centralized, a biology degree at any university would guarantee high standards. So the first step would be start stripping crappy universities and colleges of the right to grant degrees, until all US universities (not just the Ivy League and top tier of State universities) were up to the standard of universities in France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Australia, Israel, etc. Then you wouldn’t need to administer any post-graduation tests to science teachers, or history teachers, or English teachers, or anybody else.

But this means that the notion of “failure” has to be reintroduced into the system. If 15-20% of college science students aren’t failing the science programs, it’s probably because the science programs are too easy. The degree has to be made so hard that only good students can get through it. Then the school system, in hiring science grads, would know it was hiring competent ones. And the same should be done in English, History, etc. Probably 40% of college students write so badly and read with such little comprehension that they have no hope of benefiting from a Humanities B.A., so it would be better to flunk those ones out, to make sure they don’t later on become English or history teachers and contaminate the high schools.

There has to be a will to excellence, or the system will never improve. The 1960s idea that every American has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of at least a Master’s, has to be abandoned. Only a minority of the population will ever be academically talented, and those are the ones who should get the degrees and become the history, English, geography, language, and science teachers in the schools (if they don’t become doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.). The others should take up careers in industry, sales, business, sports, crafts, entertainment, social services, etc.

1 Like

I agree 100%. A college degree isn’t even a ticket to a good career anymore because it is a dime-a-dozen commodity and doesn’t necessarily prepare one for the workforce or additional degrees. We need more emphasis on community colleges, for example, through which students can gain career skills quickly and find their way to well paying jobs which best fit their interests and preferences.