Even as a judge in Pennsylvania rules that it is illegal to even mention intelligent design in a public school classroom, Frazier Mountain High School officials have approved the teaching of intelligent design as a part of philosophy course that addresses the many theories surrounding the origin of life.
The Bakersfield Californian published the following:
Origins of life course gets OK
Frazier Mountain school offers elective philosophy class on touchy issues
By LISA SCHENCKER, Californian staff writer
Posted: Wednesday December 21st, 2005, 11:05 PM
Last Updated: Wednesday December 21st, 2005, 11:15 PM
The national debate over evolution and intelligent design will soon enter at least one county classroom.
Frazier Mountain High School will start teaching intelligent design — a concept that questions evolution and attributes life to an unspecified intelligence — as part of an elective philosophy class in its January intersession.
El Tejon Unified School District Superintendent John Wight said the class, which is offered for only a few weeks, will cover intelligent design and evolution in a balanced way. He compared it to a civics class that might use abortion as an issue of debate.
“It’s not about what’s right or wrong,” Wight said. “It’s a critical thinking class.”
At least one board member, however, questions the true purpose of the class. Board members were not given a chance to vote on whether to offer the class.
Board member Kitty Jo Nelson said she wishes the board did vote on the class, given the controversy surrounding the issue. A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Tuesday that a public school district there cannot teach intelligent design in its biology classes.
“I do suspect from what has happened in other areas that this could be a move to try to get intelligent design into our local school system,” Nelson said. “I do not know how the people in this community are going to react when they know (it’s offered).”
According to a tentative syllabus, the class, titled “Philosophy of Design,” will cover the concepts of philosophy, intelligent design, Darwinism/evolution, the laws of thermodynamics and fossil records and dating methods.
The teacher, Sharon Lemburg, is the wife of a local religious leader, though Wight said that will not play a role in how she teaches the class. He said Lemburg is a certified district teacher.
“What her family members do has nothing to do with class,” Wight said.
Attempts to reach Lemburg on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Other board members also backed Wight, saying the debate over intelligent design and evolution is an appropriate topic for an elective philosophy class.
“It’s not creationism. It’s not strictly intelligent design,” said board member Steve Newman. “It’s a philosophy class questioning whether or not there’s something else out there. In a philosophy class there is no right and wrong.”
Board member Paula Regan said she is also in favor of it being taught as a philosophy class, and board member Stacey Gustafson said her son is even enrolled in the class.
“It really is a philosophy class for children to be exposed to different points of view and choose their opinions,” Gustafson said. “It looks like it’s very fair. It’s not for or against anything.”
Gustafson said, however, that she would not be in favor of teaching intelligent design as a part of the district’s normal curriculum.
Intersession is a monthlong chance for students to pick up extra credits in remedial and elective courses. Instead of attending regular classes, students go to two three-hour-long sessions per day, said Frazier Mountain Assistant Principal Kevin Triance.
Regan said she has not yet considered whether intelligent design should be taught regularly, and Newman said the decision would be the board’s as a whole.
Attempts to reach board member Phyllis Throckmorton on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
I would think that an elective course in philosophy would be an ideal forum to teach; what is a widely held theory of how life came into being. But, I am sure it won’t be long before the ACLU or some other group steps in and files a lawsuit based on mythical the separation of church and state.
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