( – promoted by DocHoc)
Oklahoma public school districts face many difficulties. Budgets have been cut, teachers laid off, class sizes are increasing, national test scores indicating a need for improvement in all subject areas, and school districts have hardly enough money to repair their buildings. These are very real problems that loom large and impact the quality of education our kids receive. To solve these and other problems, we need the best thinking and wisdom that can be mustered; yet, it appears the most help our students will receive from the Statehouse this year is Senator Josh Brecheen’s proposed legislation requiring that creationism be taught in all Oklahoma public schools. In a letter written to the Durant Daily Democrat (we have not edited for grammar or spelling) he concludes:
In wrapping this up, I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion. The state of Texas has given their children access to this information and so should our Oklahoma schools.
Josh Brecheen is a handsome young 30 something, complete with a beautiful wife and family. He idolizes Senator Tom Coburn and is brim full of conservative ideas. He’s just finished a successful campaign and won his bid to the state Senate. Unfortunately, he is as green as they come. But that aside, it’s clear that Josh is more than confused about the differences between public and private education, cosmology, his role as a state senator, the concept of separation of church and state, and science. So let’s begin.
There are many different stories of creation and the Judeo-Christian version is one of many–though no doubt the Christian view is the prominent one held by Senator Brecheen and most Oklahomans. As a leader of our state, the Senator needs to do his due diligence and learn more about the other points of view concerning creation which are held by his constituents. Should he Google the term “creation stories,” Senator Brecheen will no doubt be surprised by the diversity of stories out there. Though he favors Christianity–now that he represents all the peoples of Oklahoma, should he not show respect for other traditions besides his own? One wonders if he would be as passionate about allowing our children to be taught Native American views of creation, or perhaps the oriental view of the Cosmic Egg , or perhaps the Hindu Vedas, as he is the Christian viewpoint?
Senator Brecheen is also showing a lack of lack of understanding about settled law (Epperson v Arkansas) on US constitutional issues– particularly those related to the separation of church and state. The creation story Brecheen wants schools to teach is a decidedly Christian version. His insistence that teachers teach this religious information will not pass constitutional muster because it favors, and would establish, a particular religious view over another. One can only hope that someone among his Republican senate colleagues gives him a quick civics lesson before this goes much further.
It is also abundantly clear that Senator Brecheen does not understand science–nor the scientific method. The Senator would do well to consult a textbook or two and learn the difference between philosophy, religion and science. The national exams our students take in the subject of science will not cover religion or philosophy; rather, it will examine the understanding our students have of science and the scientific method. Rather than insisting that religion be taught as science, Brecheen should be more than a little concerned that our students learn real science. This is especially important now that Americans rank 17th among the advanced nations in science. And contrary to what the good Senator may think, evolution is an important part of agriculture, animal husbandry and medical technologies–all of which are huge industries in Oklahoma!
Finally, it is clear that Senator Brecheen needs to make a quick transition from becoming Candidate Brecheen to Senator Brecheen! While our state faces unprecedented financial, economic, and educational problems–Brecheen would have the senate spend its valuable time arguing about creationism and evolution. While our schools need financial and educational reform, Brecheen is using his newly elected status as a personal platform for proclaiming his personal faith rather than doing the job he was elected to do.