A biology professor will not write letters of recommendation for his students unless they believe in evolution. Texas Tech University's Michael Dini says no one should practice in a biology-related field without accepting the theory of evolution. He refuses to recommend students who do not "truthfully and forthrightly" apply a "scientific" explanation to the question: "How do you think the human species originated?" A university student and a religious freedom group called Liberty Legal Institute filed a complaint against Dini and the university, accusing them of "religious bigotry." So far, Texas Tech is backing Dini, claiming that his policy is not subject to regulation by the university, and is a matter to be resolved between the professor and his students.
Des Moines, Iowa teacher Paul Mann issued a political handout to his students called "Rules for Being a Good Republican." The handout describes Republicans as "people who hate AIDS victims, embrace pollution for the sake of profit, and believe women can't be trusted to make decisions about their bodies." Parents complained, but Mann argued that the handout was political satire. There is no word on whether Mann will be disciplined for the incident, but school policy prohibits employees from using school property or time to promote their political views.
Lombardy Public School near Smiths Falls, Canada, banned the word "gun" from the first-grade spelling list after one student's parents complained. School board director Gino Giannandrea later reversed that decision, and instead gave teachers the option of dropping a word from an individual student's test if the parents objected to that word. The other students will still be tested on the offending word.
Proposals to change the national science curriculum in Great Britain would shift course focus from teaching basic scientific principles to debating "pop science" topics such as cloning and evolution. The proposals are a response to the assertion by the Parliamentary Commons Science and Technology Select Committee that traditional science courses are so mundane that students become disinterested. The new curriculum would supposedly keep students interested in science and help increase their retention of "important life concepts." Although no longer required, traditional science courses would still be available as options. The curriculum changes are not expected until 2005 or 2006, but a pilot program entitled "Science in the 21st Century" will be introduced in 50 schools in September.
A new sex education course in Britain called "A Pause" encourages students to experiment with oral sex as an alternative to "full sexual intercourse." The stated goal is to cut teenage pregnancy rates in the country, which are the highest in Western Europe. Many parents and teachers oppose the explicit course, noting that it encourages sexual behavior. A bill currently in the House of Lords could eventually ban "A Pause."