District wrongly clears way for crusade by creationists.
The Creation Truth Foundation declares Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to be wrong and promotes Bible-centered science for students.
Yet last week in Hugoton, school officials thought it OK to go ahead with school assemblies from a speaker affiliated with the Oklahoma-based group.
Hugoton USD 210 officials allowed Matt Miles to speak at the school assemblies on the topic of dinosaurs. Miles also gave evening, public presentations on creationism that took place on school property.
Resulting controversy, however, centered on the school assemblies for students. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) understandably protested and labeled the assemblies for students unconstitutional.
"Even if Miles never overtly mentions the Bible or creationism," stated a letter from the ACLU to the school district, "public schools are not permitted to present students with false information, which the legitimate scientific community has universally rejected, as part of an anti-evolution, pro-creationist effort."
Hugoton Superintendent Mark Crawford accused the ACLU of bullying the district. But considering the well publicized mission of the group involved, the school district only invited the controversy in approving the assemblies.
The presentations on dinosaurs and fossils — and from someone with a questionable scientific background — could have taken place elsewhere, giving parents the opportunity to decide whether the material was appropriate.
Of course, the situation wasn't a surprise in a state where ultraconservative Republicans have doggedly pursued changing science standards in school curriculum as a way to reject evolution — the cornerstone of modern biology — and open the door to religion in science classes.
A number of teachers in Hugoton reportedly were upset about the assemblies, and for good reason.
Moves to downplay evolution in science standards and schools in general have cast negative light on a state that should provide a world-class science education to help graduates compete in today's world.
Youngsters have ample opportunity to learn about creationism or other specific religious beliefs at church, in a private school or at home. In Hugoton and elsewhere, parents should take the lead in addressing those beliefs with their children.
Public schools, meanwhile, should follow the law and refrain from promoting religion-based ideology in any way.