NDP leader Brian Mason had this to say about Bill 44, legislation tabled yesterday which allows parents to pull their children from class on the basis of belief:
All they’ve done is make Alberta look like Northumberland and sound like Arkansas.
Bill 44 is
[a] controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality.
The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of “subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation,” is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals. Parents can ask for their child to be excluded from the discussion.
Education minister Dave Hancock:
“With respect to values, religion and sex education have always been areas of concern for parents, and they’ve always been areas parents have had the right to be notified about and to exempt their students from.”
More accommodationist crap. Nothing positive can ever come from such nonsense and it isn’t difficult to see why. First, it will make it difficult to assess a high school graduates’ level of education by a post secondary institution should he/she continue their formal education beyond grade 12. Did they have what little exposure there already is to evolution in Biology class? How about Young Earth Creationist parents – do they pull their kids out of just about any discussion of Geology? How about Holocaust deniers new-found right to keep their children from being exposed to what really happened to Jews in death camps like Dachau? Should they be allowed to remove their children from learning the current state of knowledge? In essence, gauging the level of education students received during their high school years becomes more difficult, which will make it more difficult for Albertans to apply to universities outside the province.
Second, students moving on to university are already ill-prepared for that level of education and a good deal of time is wasted in getting them up to speed. Don’t think that being allowed to skip out the evolution section of Biology without penalty will ever be allowed at the university level. It won’t. Sure, students can get an education without Biology. I did. But don’t forget that any student wishing to go on to become an MD has no choice about it – Biology is a prerequisite and medicine relies very heavily on evolutionary theory. Just because they don’t like the subject matter (evolution) does not mean that they get a free pass here. Yet they are given a free pass in high school? This is silly.
Education is about imparting the current state of knowledge to children. Evolution is a large part of our current state of knowledge in Science. A 4.6 billion year old Earth is part of that same knowledge base. The Holocaust was a tragic event, but it is still a part of History no matter how hard deniers try to convince otherwise. Homosexuals are part of our society and contribute more to it than a lot of people would want to know but SHOULD know. Yet parents can pull their children out of class at the very mention of sexuality just because it might offend their tender sensibilities? C’mon! This head-in-the-sand approach does not change anything, and not dealing with such issues can only lead to ignorance and intolerance.
Biologist Sean B. Carroll said this about that train wreck of a film Expelled:
“The biology community will tell you that understanding genetics and evolution is fundamental to being a literate biologist. … Do you want your kids to be taught by people who are living in the 18th century? I don’t think so. They have a right to think these things or believe these things, but they have an obligation to be technically competent.”
I think it’s just as appropriate here. In essence, everyone has a right to their beliefs, even if they are at odds with our current state of knowledge. But this does not give anyone the excuse to abrogate their responsibilities as a citizen! Such legislation can only lead to narrow-mindedness and ignorance. This could potentially lead to situations where there are individuals ignorant of the very subject matter over which they make policy, like, say, a chiropractor (knowing nothing about Science) serving as federal Science Minister.
Wait a minute…
Albertans – call (don’t write or fax) your MLA! Ask if they support this bill. If they do, ask them why. And then tell them why they shouldn’t. It only takes a few callers to get these people to listen. This is not a direction we want to go. If you don’t know who your MLA is (I didn’t), go here to find them. A sample letter can be found on CFI Calgary’s Facebook page on the matter should you choose to forego the more effective verbal route.
Opt out of Bill 44!