"Evolution's Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom" by Michael Winerip

June 28, 2006

Source: The New York Times

On June 28, 2006 The New York Times published a column by Michael Winerip: "Occasionally, an educational battle will dominate national headlines. More commonly, the battling goes on locally, behind closed doors, handled so discreetly that even a teacher working a few classrooms away might not know. This was the case for Pat New, 62, a respected, veteran middle school science teacher, who, a year ago, quietly stood up for her right to teach evolution in this rural northern Georgia community, and prevailed. She would not discuss the conflict while still teaching, because Ms. New wouldn't let anything disrupt her classroom. But she has decided to retire, a year earlier than planned. 'This evolution thing was a lot of stress,' she said. And a few weeks ago, on the very last day of her 29-year career, at 3:15, when Lumpkin County Middle School had emptied for the summer, and she had taken down her longest poster from Room D11A � the 15-billion-year timeline ranging from the Big Bang to the evolution of man � she recounted one teacher's discreet battle. She isn't sure how many questioned her teaching of evolution � perhaps a dozen parents, teachers and administrators and several students in her seventh-grade life science class. They sent e-mail messages and letters, stopped her in the hall, called board members, demanded meetings, requested copies of the PBS videos that she showed in class. One parent asked how money could be wasted on a subject like evolution: 'As budget cuts continuously chip away at our children's future of a good, quality college-ready education,' she wrote, 'I would think there would be more educational, more worthwhile and certainly more factual learning that could be taught.' She requested that her son be permitted to 'bide his time elsewhere' when evolution was taught."