We don’t mind if science teachers want to briefly stray from the state-sanctioned curriculum to, say, discuss a shark attack off our coast, or engage in lively debate over nuclear power, or even to briefly vent about not being able to watch Dodgers games on TV.
After all, the best teachers are those who make their classes relevant, timely and interesting. If that means occasionally deviating from the lesson plan, so be it. But to spend three days showing a filmed debate on creationism vs. evolution — as Arroyo Grande High School science teacher Brandon Pettenger reportedly did — and to assign students to read and summarize a pro-creationist blog is not OK. It violates state teaching standards and the Lucia Mar Unified School District’s board policy. It also takes advantage of a position of authority to foist religious instruction on a captive audience, even if it’s done under the guise of giving students the information they need in order to decide for themselves.
Sorry, but there is no dispensation for teachers who feel it’s their duty present both sides of the debate. Nor is there a footnote that allows teaching creationism as long as it’s done thoughtfully or objectively or tastefully or whatever other adverb you care to use. Teaching religious dogma in science class is prohibited — period.
Lucia Mar officials get that, and they are using this incident as an opportunity to remind teachers of curriculum standards. That’s good.
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Still, it would have been far better if the standards had not been violated in the first place, which is why we’re delivering binders of brickbats to Lucia Mar, for distribution to any teacher who needs further reminding of what should not be included in a lesson plan.
Aquarium may get new lease on life
Like a 12-year-old kid looking forward to a driver’s license, we’re already excited about the refurbishment of the Morro Bay Aquarium even though it’s still years away.
Some background: The lease on the existing aquarium expires in 2018, and the city is requiring the new operator to make major improvements. While no one responded to the city’s request for proposals from potential operators, the city is working with the nonprofit Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach, which has been considering the Morro Bay project.
The city envisions not only a visitor-serving aquarium, but also a marine research lab; classroom and meeting space; adock for Cal Poly marine research vessels; and a section devoted to the history of the aquarium.
That sounds wonderful, though we’d be satisfied with starting small and expanding later.
We’re crossing our fingers, and gathering a bouquetof water lilies in the hope that the aquarium gets a new lease on life.
SLO’s marathon runs on gratitude
We toss fleet-footed bouquets to the thousands of finishers of Sunday’s full and half marathons. Even bigger bouquets of patience go to San Luis Obispo residents who put up with road closures that day. Many residents went the extra mile by waiting outside their homes to cheer on runners. To them — and to the enthusiastic volunteers who helped with the race — we toss bouquets of gratitude.