Date: Fri Aug 13 1993 19:45:50 Subj: Vista creationists update EVOLUTION

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Date: Fri Aug 13 1993 19:45:50 From: Jeff Jones Subj: Vista creationists update EVOLUTION ------------------------------- "Vista OKs 'biblical creation' in schools" by Lisa Petrillo, staff writer, San Diego Union-Tribune 8/13/93 VISTA--Yet again, public school business here took on the sound of a revival meeting last night. But in the end, biblical creationism won entry into the classroom of 22,000 schoolchildren here. More than 300 people crammed into the Vista Unified School Board meeting to again debate how the world began, and how much of that age-old religious debate over biblical creationism can happen in the classrooms. Testimony covered such issues as the power of God, whether Charles Darwin was a Bolshevik, and outraged criticism by some teachers of the board's fundamentalist Christian majority. A door allowing creationism came in the form of three new policies promoted by the Christian members of the board, and overwhelmingly opposed by teachers. "Make no mistake, teaching creationism is illegal; we are going to get sued," warned Trustee Linda Rhoades, who was on the losing end of the 3-2 vote endorsing the new policies. But Trustee John Tyndall disagreed with her interpretation of what the new policies will allow. "I don't want to see creationism taught in science," Tyndall assured the partisan audience. "But I do want to see scientific debate." Tyndall, who works at the Institute of Creation Research in East County, maintains that evolution is flawed and that those flaws should be discussed in science classrooms. But Tom Conry, president of the Vista teachers union, thinks the Christian majority has an agenda. "Their intent is to destroy evolution in the public schools," he said. Voting in the majority with Tyndall were board President Deidre Holliday and Trustee Joyce Lee. Joining Rhoades in opposition was Sandee Carter. The three policies became so controversial that last spring the board agreed to allow two committees of teachers to review them, although it gave them less than two weeks to do so during summer vacation. That review by teachers rejected the board's proposed policies and reworded them to follow what the majority of teachers overwhelmingly supported as following broader state policies regarding what can be taught in the classroom. The controversy has raged at virtually every Vista school board public meeting for the last 10 months, since the new fundamentalist Christian majority came out swinging for its issues from the very first meeting. Regarding one proposal, teachers bluntly stated that the board majority manipulated the California state educational framework--something regarded as gospel by the education establishment--to suit its own purposes. The board's version declares that teaching biblical creationism "shall be included" in history, social studies and English classes. As the teachers' committee pointed out, the correct version of the state mandate instead allows creation theories that "are appropriate" in those non-science classes. But as a sign of how far the board-teacher relationship has deteriorated over the last few months, the committee went so far as to rebuke the board, saying, "It is suggested that the board make accurate references to this framework..." The second board proposal is that to "enhance scientific exploration and dialogue, scientific evidence that challenges any theory in science should be presented." And the third proposal states that "no theory of science shall be taught dogmatically, and no student shall be compelled to believe or accept any theory presented in the curriculum." Later last night, despite opposition from Holliday and Tyndall, a so- called "peace" plan proposed by Superintendent Rene Townsend was approved. That plan calls for formation of a blue-ribbon task force to develop common ground on the teaching and observance of religion in this public school district. The Common Ground Task Force, as it is being called, would work from October to May to come up with guidelines.


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