So it wasn’t just biology that the Dover board had in their sights. Social studies was Public Enemy Number Two!
This morning’s proceedings at CR2 (courtroom 2) featured two Dover Area School District employees. Assistant Superintendent Michael Baksa continued his testimony, and later the defense called biology teacher Robert Linker to the stand.
Baksa talked about his involvement in the curriculum change. After the board passed the curriculum change in October 2004, Baksa received an e-mail from social studies teacher Brad Neal in which Mr. Neal sarcastically asked if the school was changing from a “standards-driven district” to a “Living Word driven” district and went on to speculate that his teaching of judicial history might be in jeopardy. Baksa responded, “Be careful what you wish for,” and referred to a book called The Myth of Separation by David Barton that Baksa had received from Superintendent Richard Nilsen, which Nilsen had received from board member Alan Bonsell. The book argues against separation of church and state and calls separation “absurd”.
Baksa also discussed the drafting of the statement. In the first paragraph, the teachers had requested to include, “Darwin’s theory of evolution continues to be the dominant scientific explanation of the origin of species.” This portion was eliminated by the board. The teachers also recommended the following in the second paragraph: “Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, there is a significant amount of evidence that supports the theory, although it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered.” Baksa eliminated the “significant amount of evidence” portion of the above because he felt that the board would not want it in the statement.
Mr. Linker testified about his involvement in the curriculum change. He noted that after he and other teachers started meeting with administrators on the topic in the fall of 2003, both he and bio teacher Jen Miller stopped using certain tools to teach evolution, including Discovery Channel videos and an interactive timeline on the development of species.
Proceedings continue this afternoon.
Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA