Science Isn’t In Kansas Anymore, Toto

By Nick Venable | Published

Given that Kansas has been the most oft-mentioned state when it comes to conversations revolving around “evolution vs. creationism” in schools, it’s no surprise that Kansas schools are in the spotlight for falsifying grades in science classes. It’s a little more shocking that teachers in Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska have also been caught doing this. But since education has become so directly tied to reduced funding over the years, nothing schools do anymore surprises me on a certain level. But on the down-to-Earth level, what the fuck are these people doing? (I say all this as a resident of Louisiana. On the ladder of educational success, we’re the carpet stain the ladder stands upon.)

A survey of more than 900 elementary teachers was taken as part of the doctoral dissertation of George Griffith, superintendent of the Trego school district, and a member of a Kansas committee drawing up new national science standards. Staggeringly, around one in five teachers reported grades of a science class that wasn’t ever taught or tested in. Griffith found over 55 percent of the teachers decreased their science education, on average between 30 minutes to an hour. Do these teachers just hate having students learn about chlorophyll and asteroids?

It all comes down to money, and high marks in math and reading are what brings it in, while science pushes its glasses up on its nose by the wayside.

Much of the blame for this can be put upon the No Child Left Behind law, which placed low-income school funding on the chopping block if benchmarks were not met. But Kansas schools received a waiver from the federal act, so the pressure comes from a more local source, and even some teachers’ own beliefs.

Ideally, those teachers giving the reading and math lessons should be proficient enough to not need to take the time away from other areas of study. But I understand that not all of these schools and students are in the upper echelon of “catching on to shit.” But to lie outright about even teaching the subject at all is abhorrent. What’s the point in learning anything from someone who doesn’t understand the ethical implications involved with that kind of lie? If I have a busy night at work, I don’t go home and avoid cleaning it just because the stuff I do at my job actually pays me, and I definitely don’t stand in front of a sink full of dishes and lie about having just washed them. I’m proud to have learned how to make that kind of analogy in public school.