Ken Hubert, Hero of Life Science Teaching

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Yet another item from the first day of the conference, the pre-conference teachers day sponsored by Evolution 2008 and the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (MnCSE) …The Minnesota Citizens for Science Education presented Ken Hubert with an award. I am blanking on the name of the award right now, but eventually, the MnCSE web site will probably have a page on this, or an announcement about it. (We need time for some dust to settle.)Who is Ken Hubert?Well, when it comes to the Evolution – Creationism ‘debate’, Ken is Case Law 101…This is the opening paragraph of an interview by Randy Moore of Ken Hubert, which is posted on the MnCSE web site (here).

When classes began at Faribault (Minnesota) High School in the fall of 1997, high school biology teacher Ken Hubert was looking forward to a productive year. However, early in 1998 Ken became concerned that a colleague — first-year biology teacher Rodney LeVake — was not teaching evolution as prescribed in the school’s curriculum. When Ken confronted Rod with his concerns, Ken learned that his concerns were justified–Rod told Ken, “I can’t teach evolution.”When Rod was later reassigned to a physical science class for refusing to follow the school’s curriculum, he filed a lawsuit that ended in early 2002 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused, without comment, to hear Rod’s case.

Ken found himself in a situation that a lot of teachers find themselves in. Ken did two things: First, he did the right thing (he confronted the problem) then, with a little luck and because right was on his side (which is never enough without the luck. Oh, and some lawyers….) he survived.Teachers, Ken spent four years getting dicked around by creationists so that you don’t have to.Ken’s award included a pile of books signed by the authors (like Genie Scott and such). He also got a standing ovation. (Well, Amanda and I, we leapt to our feet.)This is from Ken’s interview, and closely mirrors what he said in discussing his ordeal during a round table discussion held later in the day:

Lots of teachers at the high school told me that they supported what the school was doing; they were glad that we were going to fight Rod’s lawsuit. They understood that teachers shouldn’t be allowed to teach their own curriculum. Lots of people in the community supported us, but some didn’t. I’m sure there were teachers and other people who told Rod that they were happy he was suing the district. I remember getting one letter calling me a Nazi and claiming that the teaching of evolution is responsible for drugs, gangs, Satanism, and suicides. A parent asked me how I felt about Rod’s lawsuit. I told her that we were only trying to ensure that teachers taught science in our science classrooms. The parent responded by saying, “Well, we didn’t teach biology that way in 1850 and we don’t have to now.”

Makes sense to me. But staring in 1859 or so, well, that’s a different story….

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3 thoughts on “Ken Hubert, Hero of Life Science Teaching

  1. I got a chance to work, briefly, with Ken on the MN science standard revision committee. It was clear to me, having not been around when this all occurred, that the fall-out still affects him today. I wish he had been able to serve as a permanent member.

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