Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Florida Adopts New Science Standards Calling For Teaching of Evolution

The Florida State Board of Education yesterday, by a vote of 4-3, adopted new standards for the teaching of science which, for the first time, explicitly refer to evolution, instead of to vaguer terms such as "change over time". (South Florida Sun Sentinel; Miami Herald). Board member Donna Callaway was unable to muster a second for her motion to add an "academic freedom" provision that would have given teachers the explicit permission to engage students in a critical analysis of the evidence on evolution. (NCSE release.) The new standards say evolution is "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence." However, in a concession to religious proponents, the phrase "the scientific theory of" was added before references to evolution, big bang, plate tectonics, cells, atoms, and electromagnetism. The phrase "the law of" was added before mentions of gravity, universal gravitation, conservation of energy and conservation of mass. (Summary of adopted changes.) Brandon Haught, communications director for Florida Citizens for Science, praised the new standards, even with the changes, saying: "They're light years ahead of what's been used in the state." (See prior related posting.)