The decision by the Federal Way (a city on the Puget Sound in the state of Washington) School Board to allow the showing of the documentary entitled, The Inconvenient Truth only if it is balanced by the presentation of an “opposing view” was supposedly prompted by a parent’s irate email. The sender of this email claimed that, “Condoms don’t belong in school and neither does Al Gore,” and that, “The earth is 14,000 years old.” The School Board President was quoted as saying that the evolution is “…only a theory” and students should be told that other beliefs exist.
According to this view, Federal Way public schools can regard the teaching of global warming and evolution, overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, as controversial and, therefore, must be balanced by opposing views that have no real basis in fact. This is an astounding step backwards. I propose that a logical extension of this mindset would be the decision that the teaching of the existence of dinosaurs is controversial, since they are purported to have a lived on the earth a bit longer than 14,000 years, and should only be allowed if an opposing view is also presented.
The primary function of public education is to prepare young people to become intelligent and well-informed citizens in the highly technological modern world. For a public school system to actively suppress access to such vital information as provided in Al Gore’s documentary and implicitly take sides with proponents of unmistakably erroneous and crazed thinking, is amazing to behold.
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