Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Evolution Of Weaponized Ignorance

In the Trump era, where science is the enemy (but only where it disagrees with "Christian" Dominionist theocracy) and we're all living in the religious "Handmaid's Tale" hell where everything and everyone should submit to white guys awesomeness, the dismantling of America's public education system continues a to play a huge part in all of that.

That brings us to Arizona, where the state is now removing evolution from schools.

In Arizona, the state's superintendent of public instruction has led a campaign to remove evolution from the state's science education standards. Diane Douglas has taken the standards, written by educators, and selectively replaced instances of the word "evolution" with euphemisms like "change over time." The alterations come less than a year after Douglas publicly advocated for introducing religious ideas into biology classrooms. Arizona residents still have roughly a week to submit comments on the changes.

Most states develop educational standards that define their expectations for what students should know at different stages of their time in school. These standards then govern things, from the mass purchase of textbooks to the design of instructional plans by individual teachers. For large states like California and Texas, the decisions involved in the formation of educational standards can dictate the structure of textbooks that are released nationwide, as publishers try to develop one book that they can sell everywhere. 
Arizona doesn't have this level of influence, but it has more than a million students enrolled. The science standards would govern the textbooks that could be available to them, how they'll be instructed, and the content of any standardized testing they receive.
The new standards were developed by a team of more than 30 educators, after which they were submitted to the Arizona Department of Education. And that's where things started to go wrong. According to some of the teachers that wrote these standards, the state normally edits for clarity and grammar and makes changes to document formatting. The changes that were put in place this time were far more substantial. 
For example, the original standards instructed students to "Gather and communicate evidence on how the process of natural selection provides an explanation of how new species can evolve." That was changed to providing evidence on "the processes by which a species may change over time in response to environmental conditions." Instead of being expected to "Obtain, evaluate, and communicate evidence that describes how inherited traits in a population can lead to evolution," students are now asked to discuss how they can lead to "biological diversity." Similarly, the instruction to "Gather, evaluate, and communicate multiple lines of empirical evidence to explain the mechanisms of biological evolution" was altered to mechanisms of "change in genetic composition of a population over successive generations." 
Evolution wasn't gone entirely; in any cases where it remained, the references were changed so that it was discussed as the "theory of evolution." Even though evolution is both a fact and a theory, this language is often favored by those who hope the public views "theory" as taking its common meaning as conjecture, rather than its scientific meaning as a well-supported and validated explanation for observations. 
Evolution wasn't alone. The standards' lone reference to the Big Bang was also altered, from "Analyze, interpret, and critique supporting evidence for the Big Bang theory and the scale of the Universe" to focus on evidence for "theories related to the scale and expansion of the Universe." 
The changes were enough to cause the Department of Education's director of K-12 science education to resign.

In an increasingly dangerous time of weaponized ignorance in America where the Holocaust is being glossed over to the point where it's being forgotten and where lessons on slavery in the US are now more concerned with making white students and parents feel good rather than portraying the hard truth, the country is careening down the path of revanchist gaslighting, the core of which remains a regime and political party wholly dedicated to the pursuit of white supremacy in all its gruesome forms.

In other words, this is the Stupid I an here to be Versus.

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