Well, how thoughtful. The Arizona Legislature is considering instructing science teachers how to teach controversial subjects.
SB1213 calls on teachers and administrators to respond respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific issues.
Now, that sounds reasonable enough. Shouldn’t all teachers respond respectfully to differences of opinion on the topics they teach? Does the Legislature really need to pass a law on the subject?
Now, advocates for science education nationally say the measure co-sponsored by our own Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber) resembles bills introduced in 40 other states by advocates of creationism and other non-scientific beliefs that hope to sneak into science classes.
Backers of the bill have said that science teachers need a little support from the state Legislature so they’ll have the nerve to answer questions from students about things like creationism — or global warming.
Gosh. Gotta love the Legislature — showing such support for those poor classroom teachers.
Must be why the Legislature stripped away all tenure protections a couple of years ago.
Heck, the Legislature was so eager to support classroom teachers that it actually forbid school districts to even consider seniority when carrying out layoffs.
Mind you — just about every district in the state has had to do just that in the past couple of years, due to deep cuts in funding by those teacher-loving worthies in the Legislature.
Along the way, lawmakers also took away almost all the money to build new facilities, buy textbooks, update curriculum, or help teacher salaries keep pace with inflation.
So, let’s see: The Legislature wants to make sure that science teachers feel secure enough to discuss a completely non-scientific theory in science classes — while also worrying obsessively about whether something they say might get them moved to the head of next year’s layoff list.
Gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling — all those state lawmakers laying awake at night trying to think of new and creative ways to support teachers, while continuing to spend less on education than any other state.
We could lose it all
Granted — it’s been snowing like crazy.
Granted — wildfires don’t seem like much of a threat at the moment.
Granted — you’ve heard this lament before.
Still, if we’re going to play God and muck up an ecosystem that’s based on the health of trees that live for 800 years — best to work hard to stop acting like a human lifetime is a long time.
So please take note of the Forest Service study on the worrisome after-effects of the devastating Rodeo-Chediski Fire.
It now looks like we may never see again the ancient ponderosa pine forests that grew in the areas most severely burned by that 462,000-acre blaze.
The 2002 fire caused $175 in monetary damage — but may have done far more serious ecological damage than you can line up behind a dollar sign.
The researchers compared two adjacent plots. One suffered from a crown fire that killed almost every single tree and fused the soil. The second watershed suffered only moderate fire intensities and has already made a significant recovery.
The research once again underscores the urgency of the task that faces the Forest Service when it comes to thinning millions of acres that have become desperately overgrown in the past century, thanks to overgrazing followed by mindless fire suppression.
The Forest Service decades ago should have faced up to the dire consequences of allowing thickets of trees to dominate the once fire-adapted ponderosa pine forests, on which our economy depends.
At the last possible moment, the Forest Service has embraced the 4-Forests Restoration Initiative, which seeks to use a reinvented timber industry to return this vast landscape to fire-adapted sustainability. Alas, even here — the Forest Service may have squandered a precious opportunity by picking the wrong contractor.
Still, offering up long-term contracts for large volumes of the small-diameter trees that have upended the forest ecosystem remains the only faintly plausible escape from the disaster that the study of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire documents.
Never mind the snow outside today.
We’re just one crown fire away from losing our town, our livelihoods and the forest we love — not just for a year or two — but for generations to come.