Beore Los Alamitos High School science teachers can tackle topics such as global warming, they will have to demonstrate to the school board that the course is politically balanced.
A new environmental science course prompted the Los Alamitos Unified School District on Tuesday to rewrite its policy for teaching controversial subject matter. Concerned that "liberal" faculty members could skew lessons on global warming, the board of education unanimously voted to make teachers give an annual presentation on how they're teaching the class.
"I believe my role in the board is to represent the conservative voice of the community and I'm not a big fan of global warming," said board member Jeffrey Barke, who led the effort. "The teachers wanted [the class], and we want a review of how they are teaching it."
The high school will begin offering an advanced-placement environmental science course next fall. Based on demand elsewhere in California, district officials expect it to be popular-more than 15,000 public school students enrolled in the class in 2008-09.
Although there is a consensus among scientists, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that global climate change exists, the board of education said the topic is controversial enough to require a change in the district's policy.
The new class will be the first for which district teachers must prove political balance to the school board.
"Most teachers are left to center, and if we leave it to teachers to impose their liberal views, then it would make for an unbalanced lesson," Barke said. "Some people believe that global warming is a crock of crap, and others are zealots."..(****I dont care what they BELIEVE...I care about the SCIENTIFIC CONSENUS~)
The course also covers topics such as population dynamics, evolution and biodiversity, pollution, ozone depletion and human health and toxicity.
"We define a topic to be controversial if it has more than one widely held view," said Assistant Superintendent Sherry Kropp, who will take the district's helm when Superintendent Gregory Franklin steps down at the end of the school year. "There are many issues regarding the environment that have become politicized these days and we want kids to be exposed to all sides."
School officials said the class is a good alternative for students looking to add an alternative AP course to their schedules.
"Our goal is to have every high school student complete at least one AP course, and this is a good one to take because it is not heavily math-based," said Kropp. "We are excited to offer it."
The textbook that will be used, "Living in the Environment," asks students to analyze why some issues are deemed controversial (such as wilderness protection) and explores how population growth and climate change can cause species extinctions.
"If the textbook talks about the evil adventures of humanity, we want teachers to describe an opposing view," Barke said. "Teachers and textbooks are biased."
Los Alamitos Unified isn't the first district to raise concerns regarding how environmental science courses are taught. The Texas board of education, for example, mandated that teachers present "all sides" of issues that include global warming. South Dakota public schools are also required to teach climate skepticism, according to a report from the New York Times.
Still, this might be the first time a California public school takes such a stand.
"I don't have data to share on this, but every subject area has its own set of controversies," said Thomas Adams, director of standards, curriculum frameworks and instructional resources for the California Department of Education.
Kropp said, "An unbalanced lesson would portray only one side. All we want is to have teachers teach the various scientific theories out there."
Answer by NotPanicking at 10:27 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by aeneva at 10:30 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by minnesotanice at 10:30 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by KateDinVA at 10:35 PM on May. 12, 2011
Everything that deals with people can be political. Everyone has an opinion, everyone seems to have something to gain or lose. Having science taught as fact supports ideas that might cause the policies to change for some people who don't want policies to change. Isn't that what politics is all about--the way that people live together and manage resources? If one group feels threatened by another group--in this case, scientists who agree that climate change is real and impacted greatly by the way we manage our resources--they will make it a political matter and try to influence the public to view things in a way that's favorable to their wants and needs.
Answer by jsbenkert at 10:44 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by Kitkat61277 at 10:52 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by KateDinVA at 11:00 PM on May. 12, 2011
Answer by annabarred at 11:14 PM on May. 12, 2011