Alabama Thinking Hits Connecticut

Ken AshfordEducation, GodstuffLeave a Comment

Another story about teach Darwin in public schools.  It's not unusual to see this in a red state, but Connecticut?

Mark Tangarone, who teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Weston Intermediate School, said he is retiring at the end of the current school year because of a clash with the school administration over the teaching of evolution.

“Under normal circumstances, I would have retired in two more years. However, I feel that because of an unacceptable administrative action, I can no longer continue teaching in Weston,” Mr. Tangarone said.

Mr. Tangarone, a 17-year veteran of the Weston school system, claims that a program he wanted to teach about Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln was rejected by the school administration because it involved teaching evolution — the scientific theory that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor.

“I find it hard to believe that in this day and age that a teacher such as myself can be ordered to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s work and the theory of evolution,” he said.

Schools Superintendent Jerry Belair acknowledged Mr. Tangarone had tendered a letter of retirement, but denies it had anything to do with the teaching of evolution.

“This is a personnel matter, not a curriculum issue,” said Mr. Belair. He said Weston schools routinely teach evolutionary concepts in kindergarten, third grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, and 10th grade.


Contrary to Mr. Belair’s assertions, however, Mr. Tangarone said he was told by the school administration that evolution was an inappropriate subject to be taught to intermediate school-aged students.

In 2008, Mr. Tangarone created a TAG program called “AustralAsia” to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, who were born on the same day in the same year.

Part of the program involved Darwin’s journey to Australia and Asia, where he discovered natural anomalies such as seashells on mountaintops. Mr. Tangarone said he also planned for a discussion with the students about Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Before implementing the program, Mr. Tangarone submitted an outline to Mark Ribbens, then principal of the intermediate school, for review and approval. (Dr. Ribbens left the school district in 2009.)

In an e-mail to Mr. Tangarone dated Sept. 8, 2008, Dr. Ribbens rejected the basic program, citing for the most part, the teaching of evolution:

“While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life. I could anticipate that a number of our parents might object to this topic as part of a TAG project, and further, parents who would object if evolution was part of a presentation by a student to students who do not participate in the TAG program.”

He further stated, “Evolution touches on a core belief — Do we share common ancestry with other living organisms? What does it mean to be a human being? I don’t believe that this core belief is one in which you want to debate with children or their parents, and I know personally that I would be challenged in leading a 10-year-old through this sort of discussion while maintaining the appropriate sensitivity to a family’s religious beliefs or traditions.”

Right.  The kids are in a Talented and Gifted Program at the school, so let's do everything we can to make them dumber.