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charter schools can teach creationism after all

I first wrote about charter schools just over a year ago. At the time I was commenting on statements that such schools would be able to employ as teachers people who lacked teaching qualifications, wondering how that could sit with the Minister's statements around achieving quality teaching practice. But I also noted concerns that charter (oops, 'partnership') schools could set their own curricula, as this would have the potential to expand the number of schools teaching creationism in their 'science' classes.

Well, now the list of the first 5 charter schools has been published: two of those schools is described (in the linked article) as intending to "emphasise Christian values in its teaching." By itself that =/= creationism in the classroom - but yesterday Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint program (17 September 2013) reported that the school's offerings will probably include just that: 

In addition the prinicipal has reportedly said that the school will teach "Christian theory on the origin of the planet." 

And today we're told (via RNZ

The Education Minister has conceded there's nothing to prevent two of New Zealand's first charter schools teaching creationism alongside the national curriculum.

Two of the five publicly-funded private schools, Rise Up and South Auckland Middle School, have contracts that allow a Christian focus.

The minister, Hekia Parata, said on Tuesday that none of the five schools would teach creationism alongside or instead of evolutionary theory.

But on Thursday she told the House two of the schools will offer religious education alongside the curriculum.

Ms Parata did not specify how the two would be differentiated in the classroom.

South Auckland Middle School has told Radio New Zealand it plans to teach a number of theories about the origins of life, including intelligent design and evolution.

Point 1 (trivial, perhaps?): South Auckland Middle School needs to look into just what constitutes a theory in science. (Hint: a theory is a coherent explanation for a large body of facts. "A designer diddit" does not remotely approach that.)

Point 2 (not trivial at all): Why do people responsible for leading education in this country think it acceptable for students to learn nonscience in 'science' classes? After all, the Prime Minister has commented on "the importance of science to this country." Evolution underpins all of modern biology so how, exactly, does actively misinforming students about this core concept prepare those who want to work in biology later? Nor does teaching pseudoscience sit well with the increased emphasis on 'nature of science' in the NZ Curriculum.

This is really, really disappointing. We already have 'special character' schools which teach creationism in their classrooms (see here, here and here, for example). It's irking in the extreme that state funding will be used to support the same in the new charter schools.

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9 Comments

The minister, Hekia Parata, said on Tuesday that none of the five schools would teach creationism alongside or instead of evolutionary theory.

So she doesn't understand the implications of her own policies? There's a surprise.

“The minister, Hekia Parata, said on Tuesday that none of the five schools would teach creationism alongside or instead of evolutionary theory.”

The Westminster School says quite clearly (from second link in last paragraph of Alison’s post) that they “change the sub-strand called “Evolution” to “Creation”” in their science classes.

Interesting to contrast this opinion piece and the comments that follow:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/blogs/opinion/9194672/Espiner-Whats-wrong-with-Partnership-Schools

The Government is putting just $19 million into funding five schools

"Just" $19 million? That would go a long way to supporting initiatives within the state system!

And is a spot of faith-based teaching and some Maori immersion learning really going to do any great harm?

Depends what he means by 'a spot of faith-based teaching', dunnit? I particularly liked David Pearce's comment on that.

I'd like to think Espiner was playing devil's advocate, but he wasn't, was he?

herr doktor bimler,

I can just imagine a Riddled take on this, if it hasn't already been done:

http://io9.com/why-do-knights-fight-snails-in-illuminated-manuscripts-1414832198

Snail tournaments are old hat, Grant; 'Gotmedieval" covered them four years ago!

Happy now, Grant?

:-)

Let’s see. In a week I have gotten Alison onto a book and you onto that blog post.

Intones:

You are my slaves… you are my slaves… you are my ssssllllllavvvvvvveesssss.

Here’s a different kind of snail tournament:

https://twitter.com/Gotham3/status/407172484677373952

(Excuse the pathetic joke in my previous comment…)

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Recent Comments

  • Grant: Here’s a different kind of snail tournament: https://twitter.com/Gotham3/status/407172484677373952 (Excuse the read more
  • Grant: :-) Let’s see. In a week I have gotten Alison read more
  • herr doktor bimler: Happy now, Grant? read more
  • herr doktor bimler: Snail tournaments are old hat, Grant; 'Gotmedieval" covered them four read more
  • Grant: herr doktor bimler, I can just imagine a Riddled take read more
  • Alison Campbell: The Government is putting just $19 million into funding five read more
  • Grant: Interesting to contrast this opinion piece and the comments that read more
  • Grant: “The minister, Hekia Parata, said on Tuesday that none of read more
  • herr doktor bimler: The minister, Hekia Parata, said on Tuesday that none of read more