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Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms

$32.99 (P)

  • Date Published: September 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521148863

$ 32.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Who should decide what children are taught in school? This question lies at the heart of the evolution-creation wars that have become a regular feature of the U.S. political landscape. Ever since the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial” many have argued that the people should decide by majority rule and through political institutions; others variously point to the federal courts, educational experts, or scientists as the ideal arbiter. Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer illuminate who really controls the nation’s classrooms. Based on their innovative survey of 926 high school biology teachers they show that the real power lies with individual educators who make critical decisions in their own classrooms. Broad teacher discretion sometimes leads to excellent instruction in evolution. But the authors also find evidence of strong creationist tendencies in America’s public high schools. More generally, they find evidence of a systematic undermining of science and the scientific method in many classrooms.

    • Based on the first ever national survey of high school biology teachers - reports from 926 teachers in 49 states and Washington DC
    • Utilizes cutting-edge methods that make it possible to describe public opinion concerning evolution for each of the fifty states
    • Interdisciplinary - speaks directly to the best research in sociology of science, science education, education policy, political science, history of science, and public administration, and written to be accessible to non-specialists
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Who should determine whether evolution is taught in the schools and how it is taught? Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms is a thorough investigation of the relative roles played by school boards and the political process, by scientists, and by school teachers. You may be surprised by the answers.”
    Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine

    “Do not be fooled into thinking that this is ‘merely’ the single best book of social science on the controversy over evolution. It is, but it is more than that. This book is also a masterful treatment of big questions about the nature of public education and democratic governance.”
    David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame

    “A tour de force. Berkman and Plutzer’s analysis of who really decides what is taught about evolution in America’s public schools is incisive and insightful, thorough and thoughtful. Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the evolution wars.”
    Glenn Branch, National Center for Science Education

    “This important book, incorporating much new and pertinent empirical information about the actual teaching about origins in the classrooms of the USA, must be read by all interested in the ongoing debate about evolution and Creationism.”
    Michael Ruse, Florida State University

    “Berkman and Plutzer’s insightful presentation of their research will come as a shock to many who do not realize the seriousness of the problem of antievolutionism in our schools. The authors have done a great service to the public in illuminating the many sources of this problem. It should be required reading especially for school board members, administrators, and principals.”
    Eugenie Scott, National Center for Science Education

    "Berkman and Plutzer strike exactly the right balance between, on the one hand, revealing their thought processes, describing the operationalization of their variable, explaining their regression models, and the like, and, on the other hand, sustaining a lively, engaging narrative discussion that keeps the reader engaged and thinking and learning along with them. I would think that anyone teaching a methods course, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, would want to take a close look at this book to consider it for course adoptions. … Anyone concerned about state education standards, curriculum, and teaching practices is likely to find a plethora of substantive and methodological ideas and insights here."
    Michal Paris, Law and Politics Book Review

    "The enduring conflict over teaching evolution in America’s public schools features national voices and policy makers, but this investigation of high school biology teachers provides a unique and vital perspective. Those who work at every level of the K-12 enterprise will find this book both useful and surprising."
    Gary Sehorn, Journal of Education and Christian Belief

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521148863
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 2 maps 54 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Who should decide what children are taught?
    2. The public speaks: 'teach both'
    3. A nation divided by religion, education, and place
    4. Is evolution fit for polite company?: science standards in the American states
    5. Teachers and what they teach
    6. State standards meet street level bureaucracy
    7. When the personal becomes pedagogical
    8. Teachers in their schools and communities
    9. The battle for America's classrooms.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Policy Analysis
  • Authors

    Michael Berkman, Pennsylvania State University
    Michael Berkman is Professor of Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author (with Eric Plutzer) of Ten Thousand Democracies: Politics and Public Opinion in America's School Districts (2005) and articles appearing in such journals as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, and PLoS Biology. He currently serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Education, and is a graduate of the Ardsley and the NY public school system.

    Eric Plutzer, Pennsylvania State University
    Eric Plutzer is Professor of Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University, where he also serves as the Academic Director of the Survey Research Center. A product of New York City's public schools, he has travelled widely, including as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Malaya and as a guest scholar at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). In addition to Ten Thousand Democracies, he is the author of articles appearing in the American Political Science Review, the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Geography, and many other journals. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Politics and Gender, American Politics Research, Social Science Quarterly, and the American Journal of Education.

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