Despite 80 years of court battles ousting creationism from public classrooms, most public high school biology teachers are not strong advocates for evolution.
While vocal advocates of intelligent design and similar non-scientific alternatives to evolution are a minority, more than half the teachers in a nationwide poll avoided taking a strong stance for evolution.
Such teachers “may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists,” wrote Penn State political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, the poll’s architects, in a Jan. 28 Science paper.
Berkman and Plutzer, the authors of Evolution, Creationism and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms, examined data from the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, a representative sample of 926 biology teachers from across the country. They estimate that only 28 percent of those teachers consistently and “unabashedly” introduce evidence that evolution has happened, and build lesson plans with evolution as a unifying theme linking different topics in biology.
Update: also here: Teachers Fail Evolution Education: Scientific American Podcast