FWD:Ky censors evolution (no big bang for THEIR buck)

John Cole. (jrc@TEI.UMASS.EDU)
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 13:56:08 -0400

No Big Bang for KY tax bucks! Sort of on topic, I hope. In Iowa I once fought
a "big bang ban" because a State Senator thought it referred to sex!!

--John R. Cole
(FWD from NCSE)

Associated Press article from the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sunday, 8/25/96:

Banning the Big Bang

Marshall schools glue together pages of text dealing with scientific theory of

DRAFFENVILLE -- A school superintendent didn't want elementary students reading
one textbook explanation for the creation of the universe without also hearing
about the Bible's explanation.

So the superintendent of Marshall County schools in Western Kentucky
confiscated hundreds of the textbooks from fifth- and sixth-graders for
officials to glue together two pages that explained the big-bang theory.

"We're not going to teach one theory and not teach another theory,"
Superintendent Kenneth Shadowen said. "We're in a conservative area and a
conservative county, and we want to maintain the relationship with our local
churches and community. It has nothing to do with censorship or anything like

Shadowen objected to the textbook's making no mention of the biblical account
of creation in Genesis.

Some parents said they were appalled by the decision.

"I asked my son how his day went, and he told me, 'They took our science
books,' and I thought it was a joke," said Sandi Hines of Calvert City, a
mother and aspiring high school science teacher.

"The issue is censorship, and a small group of people have decided to censor

Terie Hall of Calvert City, the mother of a sixth-grader, said the episode
reminded her of a "witch-hunt in the 1600s."

"I'm outraged, disappointed and embarrassed," she said. I was so impressed
with this school system. Now I plan to protest it to the fullest. I want my
child to be informed about all theories."

The book, which says that the big bang is only a theory and not a proven fact,
had passed through the school system's textbook-screening committee and was
also approved by the state textbook commission.

The action probably is not illegal, state officials said.

"It's unusual," said Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of
Education. "But we are not going to send curriculum police down there to
unglue pages."

The big-bang theory holds that all matter in the universe was once concentrated
in a tiny, dense ball, and that billions of years ago the ball exploded,
leading to the formation of the universe.

The test in question is available in nearly every state. Titled *Discovery
Works*, it is published by Silver, Burdett & Ginn, a unit of Simon & Schuster.

One of the textbook's co-authors, Lowell J. Bethel, a professor of science
education at the University of Texas at Austin, said it was the first time he
had heard this objection about the book.

Shadowen said he made the administrative decision earlier this month after two
principals raised concerns about the book, saying they would feel uncomfortable
sending home a "one-sided" view of creation. He declined to identify the

Some of the gluing was done at the schools and some at the central office, he

Shadowen said he had not briefed the school board about his decision. But Vice
Chairman Mike Wyatt said he thought the board would back the superintendent.

Gluing the pages together "was the only fair way to do it," Wyatt said. "There
should have been an opportunity that all thoughts be presented."