I question whether the Lucia Mar school district has been honest about what science teacher Brandon Pettenger was up to. By encouraging his students to “debate” the merits of creationism vs. evolution in class, he elevated a theological construct thinly veiled in pseudoscience to the level of Charles Darwin’s world-altering discovery. If the subject was intellectual history, I’d say bravo! The story of Enlightenment-era advancements — and how they discredited theological dogma — is central to understanding the Industrial Revolution, the rise of nation states and globalization. However, the topic is wholly inappropriate in a modern-day science curriculum.
Could it be that Mr. Pettenger’s real aim was to promote Christian values at the expense of science? Already, The Tribune has published letters that accuse the district of “censorship” and urge more “investigation and experimentation” into the merits of creation theory. Seemingly, support for a religious perspective in the science lab runs high.
I would like to see the district signal in the firmest possible manner that it will tolerate no proselytizing during classes. Its tepid response to Mr. Pettenger’s abuse of his position suggests that (contrary to The Tribune’s own commentary) the district doesn’t “get it” and that the problem could be more widespread than anyone is letting on.