Public position, private views
The evolution debate is so contentious, it even has split the Florida Department of Education.
And one manager has gone so far in stating her views against evolution that it's landed her in hot water.
Selena "Charlie" Carraway, program director of the department's instructional materials office, has been counseled for invoking her official position when advocating her private views against the state's proposed science standards regarding evolution.
Carraway certainly has the right to express her opinion and participate in public debate as a member of the general public, DOE spokesman Tom Butler said.
But she appears to have stepped over the line when she used her department job to lend credibility to a private e-mail that has been forwarded throughout the state urging people to oppose the proposed standard.
"It is inappropriate for any department employee to use their public position to advocate their personal positions," Butler told the Gradebook.
Here's how the controversial e-mail started: "My name is Charlie Carraway and I’m a member of Sopchoppy Southern Baptist Church, Sopchoppy, Florida, but I also work for the Florida Department of Education as the Director of the Office of Instructional Materials. That means I oversee the adoption process in the state, and I work in close proximity to the folks in the Office of Mathematics and Science, who have been in charge of the revision of the science standards. I say all of this, obviously, to give this e-mail credibility, so that you’ll continue to read and pass on the information I’m sharing with you."
She goes on to raise the red flag that the proposed standards will "explicity teach evolution - and not as a theory!!!"
Carraway lists some of the differences between the existing and proposed standards, and then provides ways to contact the State Board of Education.
"Please join me in keeping these standards from being approved and adopted by our State Board of Education at their December meeting," she concludes. "The least we can do is make sure evolution is presented to our children and grandchildren as a theory as it has been in the past. Hopefully, though, we can do better than that."
Carraway has not responded to several attempts to contact her at her home and office.
For more on the story, see the Times and the Gradebook tomorrow.