Creationism in Connecticut Schools

AT the Newsweek website we read A New Reason Not to Teach Evolution to Kids: It’s ‘Philosophically Unsatisfactory’. It says:

Here is a vignette from a small newspaper that will sound familiar to Southerners like me who were taught creationism in school …

And then they quote from the Weston Forum located in Weston, Connecticut, which Wikipedia says is among the most affluent communities in the United States. That paper has this story: Mark Tangarone: Weston TAG teacher leaves over evolution flap. The part Newsweek quoted is this, with some bold font added by us:

Mark Tangarone, who teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Weston Intermediate School, said he is retiring at the end of the current school year because of a clash with the school administration over the teaching of evolution . . . In an e-mail to Mr. Tangarone dated Sept. 8, 2008, [the school superintendent] rejected the basic program, citing for the most part the teaching of evolution: “While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life. I could anticipate that a number of our parents might object to this topic as part of a TAG project . . . The TAG topics need to be altered this year to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s work and the theory of evolution.”

This is that school’s website: Weston Intermediate School. It certainly looks like a public school. Newsweek doesn’t say much else, so let’s read a bit from the Weston paper, with bold supplied by us:

Mr. Tangarone, a 17-year veteran of the Weston school system, claims that a program he wanted to teach about Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln was rejected by the school administration because it involved teaching evolution — the scientific theory that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor.

“I find it hard to believe that in this day and age that a teacher such as myself can be ordered to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s work and the theory of evolution,” he said.

But this is not a clear-cut issue. We continue:

Schools Superintendent Jerry Belair acknowledged Mr. Tangarone had tendered a letter of retirement, but denies it had anything to do with the teaching of evolution.

“This is a personnel matter, not a curriculum issue,” said Mr. Belair. He said Weston schools routinely teach evolutionary concepts in kindergarten, third grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, and 10th grade.

Somebody’s lying. Based on our experience with The Controversy, we’d say that it’s almost certain to be the creationists. Here’s more:

Contrary to Mr. Belair’s assertions, however, Mr. Tangarone said he was told by the school administration that evolution was an inappropriate subject to be taught to intermediate school-aged students.

For the moment, we’ll side with Mr. Tangarone. Moving along:

After Dr. Ribbens [who sent the original “no evolution” email] left the district, Mr. Tangarone appealed to Assistant Superintendent Tom Scarice. He had previous success with an appeal to teach a program on global warming.

Mr. Tangarone offered support from the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Core Science Framework and Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education, to teach evolution at an early age. He also sent an e-mail to other science teachers in the district asking them about teaching evolution.

That settles it. If NCSE is supporting Tangarone, so are we.

But despite his efforts, the appeal was denied. “Tom Scarice said ‘Give it up, Mark!’ I was also reprimanded and fined a day’s salary for sending the e-mail to the other teachers,” he [Tangarone] said.

Here’s our last excerpt; it’s a good one:

On Feb. 12, 2010, the 201st birthday anniversary of Charles Darwin, Mr. Tangarone sent a letter to the school board announcing his retirement, citing dissatisfaction with the decision to censor his program.

Nice touch. That’s all we’re going to excerpt. The Weston newspaper article is a long one, so click over there and read it all. It’s a bit surprising that something like this is happening in Connecticut — but why should places like Texas and Louisiana have all the fun?

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “Creationism in Connecticut Schools

  1. As long as religious belief in oogity boogity is given as much public respect as scientific fact, this kind of travesty will continue unabated throughout the country and beyond. I think it’s time to step up the criticism of all public expressions of religious belief and stop pretending that the conflicting truth claims of science and religion can co-exist peacefully. One is wrong, and it’s high time that those who respect the truth stop coddling woo.

  2. “While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life”

    I can sympathise with him, I mean I find the theory of gravity a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation of why the solar system travels the way it does.

    *rolls his eyes and sighs*

  3. “While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life”

    So because it doesn’t give a person warm fuzzies, it shouldn’t be taught. Guess the next logical step is for Sesame Street and other kids ed programing to replace educational standards. Sigh…

  4. Heliocentrism was a “philisophically unsatisfactory” view of the heavens, but that doesn’t change the facts. And our society seems to have survived teaching young children that the Earth orbits the Sun.

    The parents of Connecticut (and I am one) have a right to their own beliefs, but not to their own facts.

  5. Yes and Mark Ribbens is now coordinating another State supported educational institution in Trumbull, CT a magnate school RCA. This “Open Choice” program was created by legislation that was designed to increase racial, ethnic, and economic diversity. Did they know before hiring Ribbens that he espouses his own brand of ignorance and bias.
    Worse yet, other administrators Jerry Belair and Skerice didn’t reign in this ignorance nor apparently share this curious educational direction with the school board. They should all be fired… or is Weston just another backwater town posing as upscale education so the wealthy parents can justify their inflated salaries.