You Say You Want An Evolution

There’s a reason this blog is called “06880,” not “06883”:  Although Weston borders Westport, I really don’t know much anything about what goes on there.

Okay, I lied.  I know they have 2-acre zoning, so no one in Weston ever actually sees his or her neighbor.

I know Cobb’s Mill Inn is the place for weddings, bar mitzvahs and retirement dinners.  And I mean that literally — it’s the only place in town.

And I know that — just like their cousins/spouses down in Weston, Ala. and Weston, Miss. — the folks up in Weston, Conn. don’t cotton to crazy ideas.

Like evolution.

Ever since that Charles Darwin kook came to town, Weston's had nothin' but trouble.

In case you missed this story, a Weston teacher says he was told not to teach the theory of evolution.  The teacher — Mark Tangarone — ran Weston Elementary School’s talented and gifted program for 17 years.  But he’s leaving — because, he says, administrators refused to let him teach this new-fangled idea about man being descended from — you’ll laugh! — monkeys.

In 2008, then-Weston Intermediate School principal Mark Ribbens emailed FedExed telegraphed Tangarone that evolution “is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life.”

Take that, chimps!

The principal added:  “I know personally that I would be challenged in leading a 10-year-old through this sort of discussion while maintaining the appropriate sensitivity to a family’s religious beliefs or traditions.”

Yes sirree.  There’s no telling what kind of questions young Dylan or Ashleigh might ask Mom or Dad next, once they’ve had their 10-year-old brains unlocked.

They might even want to watch the Discovery Channel, provided Cablevision has wired Weston yet.

Smote down like a sinner in the hand of an angry God, Tangarone nevertheless came back for more.  He hoped to teach about Darwin during the current 1909-1910 2009-2010 school year.

But, Tangarone said, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Thomas Scarice told him:  “Drop it.”

An ancestor of Westporters, but not Westonites.

Ribbens called faxed sent a message by Pony Express telling Tangarone:  “Evolution is a topic that is not age appropriate, is not part of our existing curriculum, is not part of the state frameworks at this point in a student’s education, nor a topic in which you have particular expertise.”

Take that, Mark Tangarone!

Sweeping aside the fact that — according to the Fairfield Weekly — evolution is part of the 3rd through 5th grade science frameworks, as well as part of the Weston Public Schools’ curriculum (starting as early as kindergarten), “06880” vows solemnly to stand with our Weston neighbors (even though we can’t see them) in their fight to haul their town into the 21st 20th 19th century.

Evolution today!  A 2nd restaurant tomorrow!

This progress thing could really take off.

13 responses to “You Say You Want An Evolution

  1. Bravo, Dan! Thank you for your thought-provoking response to this travesty in our own backyard. I feel like getting out my car . . . uh, horse-less carriage . . . uh, horse and carriage and making the 15 minute drive . . . uh, day’s journey to the land of the lost and give those responsible a piece of my mind. I do, but it would be inelegant, especially after the quiet brilliance of your words. Thank you.

  2. Catherine Davis

    Well, it’s not April First, but this is awfully hard to believe, Dan! All I can think of is that May IS National Tavern Month and someone in Weston has ferreted out a hidden tavern and is monkeying around…with the curriculum, with evolution, with you?

  3. John McCarthy

    Dan, This is very sad.. Thanks for pointing this out. For a second I thought this was about Weston, AL or MS which you referenced. Well, if Nazi demonstrators can show up in Fairfield should I be surprised that this can happen in Weston?

  4. Very sad to read and I always thought it was because most textbooks come from Texas! However, how many Republican candidates in 2008 did not believe in evolution? It is one more example of the state of our public education system. As to the depiction of our neighboring Weston, I like place. I certainly have seen much of it after I get lost driving there each time I visit. Nice article.

  5. I don’t think evolution is rocket science. I don’t think that public education needs to have “…the appropriate sensitivity to a family’s religious beliefs or traditions.” That’s the family’s issue not the educator’s. The Weston superintendent’s comments are political in substance and inappropriate for an educator. If a family denies evolution and wants to teach their kids that fantasy, let them put them in a private or home school where facts need not apply.

  6. Amen Richard. I believe that is why we have separation of church and state. And I think the issue of evolution had become a tool of manipulation of the far political right to evoke their own agenda into our schools.

  7. Gary Singer

    Dan, we lived in Weston for 40 years, had both
    sons go thru the school system. I’ll check to see if this was true in the 60s and 70s when they attended. So hard to believe. Of course Weston has, for centuries, been rock hard Republican.
    Until last November. Now that the Dems control the Boards of Selectman, Finance and Education, the Town may become sane again.
    When will Separation of Church and State be
    recognized as the need of a free people? Rev. Barry Lynn for president!!!

  8. Bobbie Herman

    And I’ll bet the principal believes the Earth is 6000 years old and the Grand Canyon was caused by “The Flood.”

  9. The Dude Abides

    Actually, as my disbelief fanished on my nine mile run, I figured out that the kids of today are too dang smart to believe such hogwash. Jeez, back in the 1960’s, we heard the shame rhetoric
    in confirmation class at the Congregational Church (taught by no other than the infamous and great “Mr. Tennis” Papa Ogilvy). I recall joking to the other goofballs in the class: “The world created in one day? Does that mean the Tooth Fairy and Santa are returning?” The kids of today are much more aware of b.s than we ever were back then. Not to worry. Rightous Right flexing their muscles and it is a mere pimple.

  10. When will people/politicians learn that teaching evolution is not anti-religion. The lesson doesn’t begin with “contrary to what you heard on Sunday” or end with “and since scientists have determined that life arose through a process of natural selection and punctuated equilibrium rather than from the mote of God’s eye, the 10 commandments do not hold and you shouldn’t listen to your parents.” Are they afraid that by explaining to children about observation and discovery (the essence of Darwin and modern science, medicine, and law) something bad will happen?

  11. Yes. People are afraid of nearly everything.
    It is sad and scary in itself.

  12. I’m sorry to say this is more about the inability to fire an ineffective teacher then anything else. The administration has been at odds with Mr. Tangarone for most of is his tenure. He is a bully. This will turn into his monetary gain I’m sure. All parents with school age children in Weston know what this is really about.