By mandating that creationism be part of its curriculum, the school board in Vista, Calif., has opened the door not only to lawsuits but to an education determined by church teaching, not scientific fact. The issue is not one of equal time for the creation story included in the Bible; the issue is whether religious beliefs should be allowed to dictate what is taught in a public school, funded with taxpayers' money. The majority in the sharply divided Vista board has clearly stepped over the line.
After months of discussion, the board voted 3-2 last week to approve the policy, over objections of many parents and students and the district's own teachers' association. By ordering that "discussions of divine creation, ultimate purposes, or ultimate causes (the `why') shall be included at appropriate times in the history-social sciences and/or English-language arts curricula," the Vista board appears to be violating California education guidelines as well.
The policy requires "exploration and dialogue" of "scientific evidence that challenges any theory in science." In an apparent effort to introduce the veneer of balanced presentation, the board added that "no student shall be compelled to believe or accept any theory presented in the curriculum. …