Science Teacher's Religious Beliefs

Updated on October 17, 2010
A.B. asks from Denton, TX
16 answers

I know, I know... this is the Bible Belt, and I did move here by choice. But I never expected a 5th grade Science teacher to interject her religious beliefs into her teaching. Here are some of the issues: After they watch any video, listen to any speaker, or read anything that references the age of the Earth (13.75 billion years says the SCIENTISTS), she interjects a correction: "but we know that the Earth is really only thousands of years old". She also told them that "human beings did not come from any animals". She references the "thousands of years" phrase often, including during a discussion of fossils (we have human fossils dating back 160,000 years, but accroding to her, the Earth isn't that old), a discussion of how long it took the layers of the Earth to form, etc.

All of this is leading to mass confusion of these kids. Kids like mine who KNOW better are baffled and concerned. Both my husband and our friend with a Ph.D. in Biology (whose child is also in the class) have brought the issue up to the counselor (the principal doesn't do much). However, we are concerned that this is not enough. These kids are taking the TAKS test this year-- hopefully they don't get asked questions about the age of the Earth, right?!

People have a right to their own beliefs, but she was hired to teach science, not religion. She needs to stick to what is in the book... PERIOD. What would you do?!

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So What Happened?

BTW, yes, it is definitely a religious thing. For instance, during their 3 day field trip, chaperones pointed out that she wore "religious" t-shirts the entire time. I feel that is as inappropriate as if she'd worn a Sex Pistols t-shirt or something like that. Also, she even mentioned the Bible in class as a refrence to "proof" of her theories about the age of the Earth. She even warned them, "do not believe the internet, TV, books, etc. about this". In other words, don't believe science-- believe me instead. I feel this is strong manipulation on her part.

Yes, I wish it were as easy as telling the district and her being fired, but it is very difficult to fire a teacher. I have a hunch that she's being shuffled around anyway; she came to us two years ago from a middle school position. I'm sure when her job is on the line, she will likely resort to "he said/she said". So, if anyone has experience dealing with this, yes, advice is much appreciated.

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answers from Dallas on

Everyone has a right to their personal religious beliefs. That's what this country was founded on. However, imposing them inappropriately in school or the work place would ruffle my feathers. I would do as you are doing and make my best attempt to muzzle that teacher.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I would go to the school board about this. She is a science teacher and should teach science. If she was an English teacher, this wouldn't really matter, but I don't understand her science focus if she doesn't believe any of it. Can you contact any parents of other students? She isn't qualified for this position, and should not be allowed to continue.

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answers from Dover on

Sounds very confusing to me and I am a college graduate. I love science but am a christian so this is are hard one for me personally; however, the teacher must teach the material that the children are expected to learn (both for the upcoming test and general knowledge that other classes will build on). If you have already addressed this with the teacher, counselor, and principle it is time to go to the superintendent and/or school board.

Explain that you don't object to the religious teachings just to them being taught in the science class especially when the teacher is mixing the science facts w/ religious beliefs and the children are confused.

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answers from Columbus on

Yeah, if the kids are being tested on the content of the material and the teacher is giving them different answers, that's a problem. I would instruct my child to pay attention to the MATERIAL!!! Study what the book says and block out what the teacher says about the age of the Earth and fossils, etc. In the meantime, I would press on the counselor. If you keep at them, they'll have to do something. Explain that it's not necessarily her beliefs that are the problem, it's the contradiction between what the books say (which is what they'll be tested on and does the school really want to have an entire class do poorly on them???) and what the teacher is telling them.

I agree that each person is entitled to their religious beliefs, for sure. I wouldn't even care if the teacher told her students what her beliefs are, if she felt it necessary. However, she is a science teacher. She is supposed to teach science, whether she agrees or not. A history teacher would have to teach about the Holocaust and wouldn't, hopefully, agree with it. It's important our kids are given opportunity to explore these areas and be given truthful information. Keep talking to the counselor and principal, they can't ignore you forever.
Good luck!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I find it difficult to understand why someone with such apparently strong religious beliefs about the origin of the species and the earth, would even teach science in the first place?

Like you, I believe everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, but science/religion aside, she is not teaching the curriculum that the school district is paying her to teach. Beyond that, she is most definitely presenting conflicting and confusing information. Lastly, is this a public school? Because she is teetering on teaching religion... which may be a real no no.

If the school administration is not working with you on this, I'd definitely take it to the superintendent.

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answers from Hartford on

I am going to paraphrase and apologize because I don't remember all the details, but when one of the popes was asked about contradictions between the bible and science, he responded by saying: science can teach us all about the heavens, but the bible is meant to teach you how to get there. These "belief systems" do not need to be at odds with each other. This teacher needs to seperate her own beliefs from the scientific mainstream. If your child is in public school, this teacher is definately out of line. There was some legislation when were falling behind the soviets that required public schools to teach evolution from a scientific perspective or lose federal funding. You can probably look that up and bring it to the attention of the principal or superintendent. Anyway, your child is in that school to lear about the heavens, not how to get there - that is for mom and dad.

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answers from Anchorage on

Go to the school board and the licensing board, she is violating the law and should not be allowed to continue teaching. We have separation of church and state, and that is why intelligent design(creationism) was ruled to not be allowed in a science classroom, it belongs in a church. (see "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District")

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answers from Chicago on

Ok, just moved from Texas, love the people and the state, cant take the religious overkill that many bring in, I get it. In fact I was in your child's position in highschool with an English teacher who wanted to compare Genesis to a Native American creationism tale/fable what have you. I opted out for my own personal reasons as well I also knew that since our high school offered a Bible as Lit class that it was illegal for this teacher to present this to the class at all. Subsequently because my mother was supportive we fought this issue and the assignment was deemed "extra credit" and others were offered as well.
I know that the school districts in Texas were just going over the standardizing of religion and science last year or the year before, Texas text books are often the national standard believe it or not. I would go to your school district if your principal and other officials will not address the subject. As well if your child is a strong individual who believes in standing up for human rights, may I suggest a petiton for the "reveiw" and "reeducation" of Mrs. Blank in the feild of science education. Or something to help back up your claim of this teacher's behaivor from all of her students. Plus writing exact quotes, what brought them up and what the text book says vs. the teacher ... ANYTHING to help the school board see. And there is always legal action, this can technically be considered Harrassment under the Hostile Environement clause that would be FUN... but yes I do enjoy confrentation when it is appropriate, and we did explore the legal options before meeting with my school about this teacher. Good Luck, and the law is on your side!
side note: at some point please thank this person for offering you and your child such a learning experiece things like this are wonderful to begin to learn and understand at such a young age.

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answers from Houston on

Have you tried talking directly to the teacher about the injection of her personally beliefs into the lesson plan? Somethings in the books are verifiable facts and somethings are just popular theories, so maybe she's just trying to give both sides of the theories equal playing time. Maybe not, but you don't know unless you ask. At any rate, you should be able to ask her directly about it. You won't always agree with or be able to prevent what's presented to your children in school so the best thing is to be willing to discuss it with them. good luck.

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answers from Atlanta on

You should do her the courtesy of having a conference with her, and let her know if she doesn't stop interjecting religious beliefs into her science class, you are going to the school board and calling for her dismissal! Honestly, she should be fired. It sounds like she became a "science" teacher just to push her own agenda. If she wants to teach, she should choose a different subject area.

Before you do this -check on the local laws and ordinances in your district. As hard as it is to believe (although check out some of Texas's and Georgia's other laws in this area), some school districts actually have stipulations that allow dual teaching of creationism and real science in a classroom. For awhile here, there was a metro area school system that HAD to put stickers in all science textbooks offering a "disclaimer" that the views therein were not held by everyone and some people believed in creationism. Well, some believe in the tooth fairy too....But check before you have a conference with her and make sure you have a valid complaint in the eyes of the school district. Sad, I know!

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answers from Dallas on

What's funny, is the bible never states how old the earth actually is. People came up with this number. Even for people who believe in creation, the earth could still be millions of years old!! Sorry, I know that's not your question. I would speak with the principal, about this. What she is interjecting is not on tests, or their curriculum. I can imagine how they'd be confused! Not to mention, the whole separation of church and state thing. Just tell them you think she is a good teacher, but that she is also breaching her duties as a state paid teacher. She is adding her own religious beliefs, which is not in her job description.

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answers from Alexandria on

Would your schedule allow for you or your husband to observe the class? I wonder if she will interject her own beliefs with another adult there. Easy to do her words against the student, harder with a parent.

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answers from San Antonio on

Being a former 5th grade science/english/math/reading/etc teacher here in Texas, I'd say this teacher is out of line. There won't be any questions on the TAKS test about how old the earth is, but she needs to stop confusing the kids with this nonsense. She needs to teach the TEKS ( ) to the kids and that's it. When I taught 2nd grade one time, we were talking about size of and leaders of the city (mayor), state (governor), etc. We got to the whole earth and one girl said "God" and I said "some people believe that yes, some don't believe that." I think if the teacher's going to put in her two cents, she needs to say "some believe" or say nothing at all.

BTW - you can see old TAKS tests (with answer keys) online. Scroll down on this page and you can see ALL of them (Reading, Math, etc)

I guess I didn't really give you an answer to "what would you do?" I guess I'd go to the school board with the TEKS in hand and ask why your kids are learning one thing, then being told that it's completely wrong. I think the idea to go observe the class would be beneficial so you can see first-hand what she is saying. Or have your kids bring a tape recorder?

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answers from Cincinnati on

Completely unacceptable. I am not a creationist (or rather, I believe that the creation story and evolution are completely compatible), but I suppose if she wanted to interject that "some people believe" such and such or "there are multiple theories, and this is one of them," I think that would be acceptable. To state her own religious beliefs as fact, and to use them to override the scientific data she is supposed to teach is just outrageous. I would gather other like-minded parents at take this to the principal en mass. If that doesn't work, move on to the school board. Make sure you have a number of parents so that it doesn't turn into a he-say-she-said, but is very clear cut. Good luck - this would make me furious.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

that is unacceptable! Go to the superintendent if the principal does nothing! If that doesnt work, take it to the school board! Your child should not be told these things in a public school!!!!

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answers from Tulsa on

Since the Principal is unable, or unwilling, to address this issue then please take this up with the school board or Superintendent.

Although I feel that schools have no business teaching religion, it should be taught in the home by the parents first, I also think it is highly inappropriate for the teacher to be interjecting her beliefs the classroom. If she is a Science teacher then she must love something about science and if she's just a stand in because they couldn't find anyone then they need to switch teachers around.

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