Keep Creationism Out of Kentucky’s Schools

In Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the State address Tuesday, education was a major theme, as budget cuts threaten to damage recent improvements in K-12 test scores and graduation rates.

Without a budget infusion teacher layoffs are inevitable, leading to significant increases in class sizes.

“We’re in danger of losing all of the positive momentum which has been built up, and I am not going to let that happen,” said Gov. Beshear.

Kentucky continues to try and emerge from behind its shadow of being a redneck backwater. Its success with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, balancing its budget, creating jobs and continued educational improvements, are all helping to elevate the Commonwealth’s reputation.

No doubt The Bluegrass is a red state, but voting Republican doesn’t mean you have to be a knuckle dragger. This is a conservative state, with a high level of poverty. To compete in a global economy Kentucky must move past the rhetoric spewed by Tea Party loyalists and embrace progressive ideology.

Toyota is a big employer in Kentucky, but they have a hard time filling positions here. It takes a ridiculous number of interviews for management to find a single prospect with the basic education and skills capable of being a productive employee within Toyota’s modern work environment.

Historically Kentucky hindered its future generations by failing to make education a state priority, and handicapped educators by neglecting to adequately fund K-12 institutions.

Last year Kentucky took a step forward into the light by revamping science content in grades K-12. Teachings on evolution will now coincide with the latest research. The Next Generation Science Standards also addressed climate change, so discussions specify an explicit link between human conduct and its impact on the climate.

It’s not like Kentucky is out there alone in this thinking. These new standards were developed over two years through a consortium of 25 other states, and included input from educators and scientists from across the country.

In fact this is the result of a Republican-backed piece of legislation from 2009, which called on state educators to better align coursework with other states and improve comparability with national and international benchmarks.

Many would think this is no big deal, that of course these concepts are being taught to students because they are factually accurate, but in Kentucky, these are not ideas necessarily considered self-evident.

Creationists openly ridiculed these new standards as “fascist” and “atheistic. There was even talk about how this type of thinking would lead to “genocide” and “murder.”

It’s quite the opposite. These 21st century concepts are vital for Kentucky to keep pace with other states and better prepare students to enter college.

It’s discouraging to hear adults angrily argue that teachings on evolution and climate change are somehow similar to Soviet-style communism.

Embracing this kind of regressive thinking is precisely what creates the misperception that all of Kentucky is backwards.

There is nothing wrong with religious freedom, but like religious beliefs, keep it to yourself and don’t hold others back with frightened biblical misinterpretations.

Kentucky needs job development, and to get that our next generation of students must have the educational opportunities available to them to be competitive on a global scale.

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