To the editor:
After the State Board of Education's shocking vote on science standards, I was dismayed and embarrassed for the state and deeply sorry and concerned for those small-town science teachers who might now be subject to pressure from conservative local religion forces that could have a negative impact on the teaching of biology, geology, and physics. I was even more concerned for the students of such districts. But I was, I will confess, comfortably, even smugly, complacent on a personal level about Lawrence. Surely our rational and educated community would have nothing to worry about.
Wrong! Does anyone seriously believe that the mistreatment of Stan Roth is not religiously motivated? I am not convinced that Mr. Roth said what parent Joseph M. Harvey quoted in a letter to the Journal-World. But maybe he did -- eventually -- out of sheer exasperation. The original Journal-World article mentions five letters in Mr. Roth's file from this particular parent. Why so many? Is it possible that the student in the case continued to waste class time badgering Roth to teach "creationism" after she was first told it was not an appropriate topic for a science course?
A more tactful approach might have been a brisk "This is science, not Sunday school," since a remark about not teaching "that crap" was subject to misinterpretation, and a student might have supposed it to refer to her personal religious views rather than to "crappy" science. But that is hindsight and 40 years of brilliant teaching and outstanding service to the district should never have been treated with such abusive disrespect because of one or two tactless remarks.
There is plenty of blame to go around but before we criticize the weak response of the current superintendent of USD 497, we should not forget that Al Azinger forced Stan Roth to move from Lawrence High, where we valued and appreciated him, to Free State. So much for respecting honored educators and the tax-paying parents in the older parts of Lawrence who did not approve of the move.
An issue of respect? Absolutely! And Mr. Joseph Harvey says "the system works"? What a joke! Be afraid, Lawrence parents and taxpayers, not just of the conservative extremist hotbed of Olathe. "We've got trouble -- right here in River City!"
Nan C. Scott,