National Council for the Social Studies adds its voice for evolution


National Council for the Social Studies, the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education, adopted a statement on "intelligent design" in May 2007, which will appear in the forthcoming third edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution, a collection of statements in defense of evolution education from scientific, educational, civil liberties, and religious organizations.

After reviewing the legal background of efforts to teach creationism in the public schools, the NCSS statement specifically addresses proposals to teach creationism in social studies classes rather than science classes, observing:

Social studies may, at first glance, seem to be a better fit for this approach to teaching intelligent design, but the same constitutional issues arise whether religious beliefs are taught in science or in the social studies curriculum. While the social studies classroom is the proper forum for the discussion of controversial issues, educators should be wary of being used to promote a religious belief in the public schools. This unintended outcome can be the result of teaching students that a scientific controversy exists between intelligent design and the theory of evolution when, in fact, no such controversy exists.
It emphasizes that "teaching religious beliefs as the equivalent of scientific theory is not consistent with the social studies nor is it allowed under the First Amendment. Evolution is a scientific theory subject to testing by the scientific method."

The NCSS statement acknowledges, however, that "there are a number of ways in which social studies teachers might introduce the issues surrounding intelligent design in their curriculum," giving examples of constitutional, historical, sociological, anthropological, and public issues perspectives. None of them convey the misleading impression that there is a scientific controversy over evolution.