Kids, step away from the scalpels.
In a win for animal rights activists, foregoing the formaldehyde-laced high school rite of passage, Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, California will swap real frogs for their virtual counterparts. In exchange for a minimum five-year commitment, the school will receive free software courtesy of animal-rights groups who advocate for the virtual curriculum.
While the school’s assistant principal, Kevin Stipp, said the virtual lesson will not be the same as performing the dissection on a real animal, he told the Riverside Press Enterprise, “it’s not so drastically different that the kids won’t get something out of it.”
Though many educators still value dissections on real animals as an important anatomy and physiology lesson, 14 states have laws which allow students to opt out of such lessons.
Animal rights groups have long campaigned to stop the practice of dissecting frogs and other animals in the classroom. They claim frogs are plucked from their wetland habitats and inhumanly killed by immersion in preservatives and that, in addition to causing “unnecessary suffering and death,” the practice is contributing to their dwindling populations worldwide.
Hoping to encourage more schools to take this step, the Animal Welfare Institute and Save the Frogs! are sponsoring a campaign to donate software licenses (valued at nearly $900 each) to the first 25 schools that agree to ban dissections. (Rancho Verde was the first school in the nation to take them up on the offer.) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also has a small grants program to help schools purchase the software.
The groups hope to get every middle and high school in the U.S. to abandon the practice of dissecting frogs by 2014.