April 26, 2002

Nevada May Remove School of Tomorrow Curriculum From State Approved List

In a memo written to the Nevada State Board of Education, Science Education Consultant Dr. Richard Vineyard recommended that the Board remove the School of Tomorrow (SOT) science curriculum for the state's list of approved correspondence programs.

"I would describe this set of curriculum materials as a religion curriculum built around a selected and limited set of science content, rather than a comprehensive science curriculum," said Dr. Vineyard in his April 9 memo.

Dr. Vineyard gives several reasons for his negative recommendation. First he says SOT relies too heavily on vocabulary use rather than teaching students to understand the concepts of science and the ability to use the processes of science to build knowledge and understanding. According to Dr. Vineyard, students who use SOT for the basis of their science instruction will not be able to pass the science portions of Nevada's new High School Proficiency Exams. Nevada public high school students will be required to pass these exams to receive their diploma beginning with the graduating class of 2005.

But method of teaching is not the only problem Dr. Vineyard sees with SOT. Dr. Vineyard says that SOT uses a faulty definition of science and a faulty treatment of the scientific method. SOT overemphasizes the limits of science rather than examining the benefits of the scientific method, says Dr. Vineyard.

"[SOT's] description of the methods of science... completely falls apart when they state that the results of scientific experiments, all science facts, must be interpreted on the basis of the Bible."

Dr. Vineyard explains what he means by saying:

They [SOT] criticize science because the results of all experiments are interpreted based on the previous knowledge and background of the scientist doing the interpretation; that the preconceived ideas that the scientist brings with them might limit the "facts" that they choose to consider. At the same time, they freely admit that all results should be viewed and interpreted through the lens of religious belief.

This methodology, according to Dr. Vineyard, causes SOT to go to great lengths to find data that can be interpretedů to support the ideas of special creation and the great flood.

While a move to eliminate SOT from the approved curriculum list is likely concern only the small number of Nevada home and private schools who use School of Tomorrow, the problems may not stop there.

"We have been hearing rumors that the Nevada State Board of Education would be reviewing science curricula on the approved list for some time now," says Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott Somerville. "A department of education official told me that several programs more popular with home schoolers, like A Beka, are headed for the chopping block as well."

Removal of a curriculum from the state approved list will not prohibit Nevada home schoolers for using it. However, home schoolers who do not use an "approved" curriculum are required to comply with more state regulation of their home schools than those who do.

 Other Resources

To read Dr. Vineyard's memo, click here. (pdf)