Teaching "Intelligent Design" in the Public Schools
Write your paper about a hypothetical proposal that is before the elected school board for the public schools in your city. The proposal stirs deep controversy in the community. Opponents claim that it would violate the Constitution’s prohibition against an “establishment of religion.” The proposed mandatory regulation states:
“The theory of ‘intelligent design’ shall be taught in the public schools of this city in all classes where the theory of evolution is taught. The theory of ‘intelligent design’ shall be taught as a possible scientific explanation for life, and other aspects of the universe, and as an alternative to the scientific explanation offered by the theory of evolution. For purposes of this regulation, ‘intelligent design’ is a theory that certain features of the universe and living things ‘are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection’ as claimed by the theory of evolution.” [See: IDEA Center. (2004). Intelligent design theory in a nutshell. Retrieved from http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1136].
Write your paper from the perspective of a community member listed below. In other words, for this assignment, you will assume a role. Imagine yourself as one of the following people:
The superintendent of the public schools in your community.
The chair-person of the local elected school board.
A little known candidate running for mayor, who is challenging the long-time, highly popular mayor.
The president of the citywide Public School Parents Association.
The pastor of a local mega-church who believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible, including every aspect of the creation story.
A high school science teacher who is the elected president of the citywide teachers’ union.
Write your paper as if it will be read by a public audience who are likely to be interested in your views given your role in the community. With this in mind, write clearly and persuasively for that audience. You are not required to take a position that your audience agrees with; but you should write with the purpose of informing and persuading that audience. If you know someone who plays a role like this in your community, it might be interesting to discuss this assignment with that person.
Your paper must clearly state your position on the constitutionality of the proposed school regulation. Your paper should not address broader questions about the merits of the regulation; but it should focus on whether or not the regulation would violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You must clearly explain and apply an interpretation of the Establishment Clause and justify your position using part of the rationale of at least one of the four different opinions authored by various Justices of the Supreme Court in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard (1987). However, the paper must be written in your own words without lengthy quotation from outside sources. Briefly quoting a few words for emphasis or special effect is acceptable. If you paraphrase the words or use ideas from any source, you must cite the source according to APA style.
The paper must be at least 800 words in length and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least three scholarly resources (including Edwards v. Aguillard and also one of the assigned scholarly articles) other than the textbook to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your resources in text and on the reference page. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.
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