Editorial: Science should be taken more seriously in schools

From his early days as the scrawny, black-and-white protagonist in “Steamboat Willie” to the rounded, bubbly character he is today, the evolution of Mickey Mouse is being taught in the classroom.

That’s the only way a teacher in Orange Park said he could explain evolution without offending students’ religious beliefs, The New York Times reported.

Despite these efforts, after cautiously explaining to students the evolution of all organisms, including humans, David Campbell still met with opposition from a student who told him there was no way he came from an ape. The student then walked out of the classroom.

The thing is, Campbell shouldn’t have to fight so hard to educate his class. What students and parents opposed to evolution overlook is that science doesn’t seek to offend anyone. The role of science is to explain things based on physical, testable evidence.

While the United States — and, more specifically, Florida — waffles on whether teaching science as fact rather than a possibility is offensive, it’s no surprise the education system is slumping and students are not prepared for the global marketplace.

Though no direct correlation between the rejection of science and ill-educated citizens can be drawn, countries around the world that accept evolution are making strides in education.

In 2007, a study that was administered by the U.S. Department of Education to compare U.S. math and science test scores to the worldwide Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study  reported that American students were out-performed in mathematics and science by students in countries that are our economic competitors.

The reasonable, pragmatic response is to stress the teaching of science and math, not pander to religiously based rejections of fact that have neither intellectual nor economic interests in mind.

Educational institutions and educators shouldn’t feel terrified to teach evolution, especially in a country that prides itself on free speech and thought.

Science, like math, English and history, should be taught without bias. Ultimately, individual students will decide whether they believe in the theory. But it’s still a teacher’s role to convey the facts as they are best known.

As Campbell told his students, evolution is science, and science is not faith.

The argument to teach evolution — or simply not to dilute its teaching — is not an argument for or against faith, or that science should take the place of religious belief. The argument to teach evolution is in fact separated from faith and speaks to the core of the U.S.’s research, development and economic engines. Evolution is a serious scientific principle and must be taught accordingly. It should not be taught with cartoon characters, but with flesh-and-blood examples that could challenge and enlighten students’ views.