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A reader question on the “final” post in the Mr. Taylor series:

I’m curious about what you would say to a teacher with concerns about a colleague’s coverage of evolution. We have a science teacher who is evangelical, doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming, and “teaches the controversy” from what we hear. The problem is, I’m not in a position to have proof about what he teaches or how he does it. Any suggestion? — teacherlady

Boy that’s a good one. Teachers have an obligation to be responsive to parents. They have no such obligation to colleagues, and pointed questions from a faculty peer can (and probably would) be seen as galling presumption.

I forwarded the question to NCSE, and once again Glenn Branch provided what seems like a solid, reasonable answer:

It’s a little delicate, obviously, since this is a problem with a colleague, and there may be complicated workplace politics involved. But she should take the problem upstairs, to her department chair (if there is one) or her principal, whose job it is to worry about whether the teachers are doing their jobs right.

She should keep in mind that by doing so she’s going to be serving two interests: not only do the kids in the school need a decent science education, but also the district needs to be able to protect itself from possible lawsuit, as case law is clear. It’s difficult, we know, but she needs to do what is right, both for the kids and the district.

Any discomfort a teacher might feel in raising the question pales when weighed against those two interests.

In a later comment, teacherlady notes that the principal is also Christian and so might be disinclined to act. I wouldn’t assume that. In addition to the possibility that the principal is a sane, moderate Christian, the professional recognition of legal liability will generally trump personal leanings in all but the densest administrator.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.