Georgia doesn’t have the best track record on church-state separation, but the state is working to revise its public school science curriculum to make sure students have an understanding of natural selection and evolution.

The curriculum, called “The Next Generation Science Standards,” is being developed on a national level by 25 states and the District of Columbia. The National Academies, which laid the framework for the standards, said its goal is “to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science, the capacity to discuss and think critically about science-related issues, and the skills to pursue careers in science or engineering if they want to do so -- outcomes that existing educational approaches are ill-equipped to achieve.” 

That is a sound plan, so naturally a fundamentalist church in Villa Rica (an Atlanta suburb) is upset about it.

“What message are we sending to our children when they come away saying, ‘I’m an ape with less hair’?” asked Villa Rica Church of Christ Pastor Patrick Gray, according to WSBT.

The Atlanta ABC affiliate said Bob Staples, a member of the church, called Darwin’s theory “bad science” and said “it’s bad for the culture.”

“To teach it as a fact,” said Staples, “is lying to people.”

It’s curious that Staples, who is a college math teacher and also a member of the state committee working on the new science standards, is worried about lying to people. He said he believes in a literal view of the Bible, but doesn’t expect public schools to teach creationism.  

So what would Staples teach? If evolution is a no go and so is creationism, what does that leave? It sounds like Staples would rather give kids extra recess time than good science classes.

Staples hasn’t offered an alternative. All he “knows” is that teaching evolution is contributing to the decline of civilization.

“The crime rate, child abuse, divorce. All of these things rose from a period following the implementation of teaching Darwinian theory [in the 1960s],” Staples said.

It’s safe to say that crime, child abuse and divorce all pre-date the 1960s and have absolutely no link to the missing link.

Comments are due today on the proposed curriculum. It’s unfortunate at best that Staples has a position on the committee that must approve the standards for the state, but let’s hope that his fellow committee members consider this:

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that over the last decade, growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs was three times greater than that of jobs in other fields, according to a release. These jobs are also expected to grow at an even faster rate over the next 10 years, the department said.

So there you have it – sound science education will better prepare American students for the job market, and we need that now more than ever. A national report issued today showed unemployment rose to 8.2 percent in May. In Georgia, unemployment is slightly higher at 8.9 percent.

But don’t tell that to people like Staples. He’d rather advance his fundamentalist view of the Bible than help students have a bright future. Teachers are supposed to push students to achieve great things, not hold them back. Given his outlook, it seems Staples is in the wrong line of work.