Letter to Missouri’s ‘Christian’ parents

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Statue outside Yellow Dragon Cave, Zhangjiajie, China

This letter is what I would write to Missouri parents who would want me as a science teacher to excuse their children from a teaching unit on evolution. For details about what that’s all about, read this article at Talking Points Memo. This is only a bill now in the Missouri legislature. For the purposes of this letter, I am assuming it’s become law.

Dear parents,

I understand that you would prefer your child not be required to attend class during our upcoming unit on evolution. Per the new law recently passed in the Missouri legislature, I am required to excuse your child from class. Please find enclosed the excuse slip with my signature. Your child will need to show this slip to the hall monitors during our science class period. Otherwise, his or her absence from class will be recorded as a cut, and after-school detention will be assigned. Please remind your child to carry the slip at all times.

Now, I need to discuss other matters. Please pay close attention to the following remarks, as they have some bearing on your child’s success in this course.

As you may be aware, evolution is one of the key foundations of modern biology. It is the framework on which biological concepts are hung. Evolution and its consequences fill a major portion of most high school and college biology texts. Learning about evolution is as necessary as learning about atomic theory in chemistry or Newton’s Laws and the Conservation of Energy in physics.

Keeping that in mind, please be sure you understand the following.

  1. According to our school regulations, all absent students must make up any missed work, except for cases of serious, long term illness or family emergencies. Such exceptions are made only by the principal, and are rarely granted.
  2. Therefore, your child is responsible for completing all the homework assignments for the evolution unit, whether he or she is in class. Please refer to the syllabus on our class website for details.

  3. The syllabus also includes a test at the end of each unit in Biology I. The unit test on evolution will be in approximately four weeks. All Biology I students must take this exam, or receive a zero. Since there are five unit tests, a zero would significantly lower your child’s quarter grade and final grade. Therefore, I recommend your child study the chapters on his or her own. Since you do not want your child to attend class during this unit, I can only assume you do not want them to learn from me. Therefore, I will be unavailable for consultation. Your child can ask classmates for help.

  4. Approximately 20% of the final exam will deal with evolution and related topics. All students will be required to take the same examination, in the interest of fairness. Prior to finals week, I will review the term’s material in class. I will excuse your child from class during the evolution unit review.
  5. A passing grade in Biology I is a requirement for enrolling in later science classes, and for receiving an academic diploma that will ensure admittance in the state university system. Given the importance of evolutionary theory, it is in your child’s best interests to learn and understand evolution. That is one purpose of Biology I: to enable my students to do well in future science classes and in college, should they choose to further their education. While I am required by the new state law to excuse your child from class, should you so desire, I am not required to change my expectations or requirements for successful completion of Biology I. Absence from class is not an excuse for failing to learn the material, per item 1 above.

Thank you for your attention. Should there be any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me through the school website.

Sincerely yours,
John Q. Teacher
Missouri High School

encl: excuse slip

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