To the editor:
In a 6-0 vote, the USD 497 school board voted to no longer require biology for graduation from high school. New courses will be created so failing students can pass and the school system will be defined as a success. Already veterinary "science" and greenhouse "science" satisfy graduation requirements. This completes the total removal of anything we would recognize as a core science course from the requirements.
Prior to the meeting, board member Sue Morgan said that the measure would be opposed by special-interest groups. In introductory comments, Leni Salkind noted that the measure would have problems due to an uninformed public. She criticized a newspaper article here as unclear. The only thing that was possibly unclear in that article concerns whether everyone takes biology. The new situation is that they have to take it, but don't have to pass it.
I did not bother to testify against this, since it is clear that I would have been dismissed as an uninformed member of special-interest groups (parent, scientist). I am disappointed at the lack of any principled opposition by any board members.
It's no accident that the No Child Left Behind act doesn't mandate science improvement. In its original form, science was included, but this was opposed by people who presumably did not want their world views challenged. Failing to meet other standards (reading, basic math) will result in a federal funding penalty. The sheep are following the dollars: Drop biology in favor of soft drinks.