Rodney LeVake and Arguments against Evolution

The EAE approach was first tested in the courts in Faribault, Minnesota, in 1998, where the teacher Rodney LeVake was to begin his first year as a high school biology teacher. Colleagues learned that LeVake was omitting evolution from his course, because he thought it was "impossible" (Moore 2004: 327). His administrators requested that LeVake clarify his approach by preparing an essay describing what he would teach. The document he submitted consisted of a list of typical arguments against evolution, including a mixture of creation science arguments and ones popularized by ID. Concerned that students in LeVake's class would not be taught a standard curriculum, his principal and superintendent reassigned LeVake to teach another class in which evolution would not be part of the curriculum. There was no change in his salary, rank, or seniority.

With support from a conservative legal foundation, the American Center for Law and Justice, Levake sued the district for his free speech right to critically analyze evolution, and he claimed religious discrimination. The Minnesota State Court decided in favor of the district, citing considerable case law holding that a district is within its legal right to direct the teacher on class content. The courts have generally held that a teacher who signs a contract with a district is agreeing to teach the curriculum of that district. Case law does not recognize much academic freedom for teachers at the K—12 level; the situation is very different from that at the college level. LeVake appealed but did not succeed in getting a rehearing.

Another manifestation of EAE, the disclaiming of evolution by presenting it as theory, not fact, had its first court test in the Tangipahoa, Louisiana, case (chapter 6). A carefully worded district court decision struck down the Tangipahoa disclaimer largely on the grounds that it was too overtly religious. A second court case took on a textbook disclaimer that was more carefully worded.

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