About five years ago the teaching of evolution in public schools came under fire in Kitzmiller v. Dover. A Dover Area School District policy demanded that intelligent design be taught as an alternative to evolution. The plaintiffs, parents of children in the school district, argued that intelligent design was nothing more than an alternate form of creationism, a religious view unfit for the classroom. In a district court, presided by the conservative, Republican judge John E. Jones III, it was the plaintiff who carried the day. To quote Judge Jones: "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."
Evolution has won the battle in the courtroom. Even now, though, five years after Kitzmiller v. Dover, it's still an issue of strong contention in our classrooms.
Science Magazine recently published a survey regarding the teaching of evolution in the United States. On the optimistic side, advocates of evolutionary biology – teachers who properly show evolution's role in tying together the disparate elements of biology – are up to 28 percent, as opposed to 13 percent who explicitly teach creationism. More worrisome, though, is the remainder. Between 59 and 60 percent profess to teaching "neither." That's right: more than half of our biology teachers are not taking a stand on the most important issue in biology. As the article accompanying the survey put it, they want to "avoid controversy."