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Evolution of evolution: the debate could end.

Ohio is teaching "Critical Analysis of Evolution" and Georgia is keeping evolution after getting flak for wanting to change it to "biological changes over time." Missouri legislators are considering a bill that would teach both evolution and intelligent design.

Thus, the evolution debate continues to wax and wane in American schools, particularly now due to upcoming stringent requirements for science under the federal No Child Left Behind act. Such requirements are forcing states to hake a second look at their science curricula.

And there is no federal law that requires states to teach evolution, so states are still being swayed by public opinion. "It's worse than a waste of time," says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. "It's divisive."

In Ohio, the Board of Education approved standards on evolution for 10th-grade biology as well as Critical Analysis of Evolution, according to Deborah Owens Fink, a member of the Ohio Board of Education. She says the lesson includes challenges to evolution. "I think it's a great model for education," she says. "I think one thing that needs to be recognized is that the U.S. is increasingly under pressure to remain globally competitive. Education can't be just about memorizing facts or data, but to think critically and respect different views."

Scott says it sounds logical, but she questions why only evolution is challenged. "Notice how one subject is pulled out to be critically analyzed," Scott says.

In Georgia, the Department of Education is revamping its entire curriculum because it is too broad, says Kirk Englehardt, department spokesman. School Superintendent Kathy Cox was trying to prevent controversy when she proposed taking the word "evolution" out of the biology curriculum and replacing it with "biological changes over time," Englehardt says. A huge outcry from educators and the science world forced Cox to keep "evolution."

Now, the biology curriculum includes national standards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he says.

Scott says he believes that when religious groups accept evolution as compatible with their theology the debate will vanish.

www.natcenscied.org

Anti-evolution

The "anti-evolution" movement is virtually a "North American phenomenon," Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education says. Up until 1925, when the Scopes monkey trial took place and Scopes lost, American school textbooks included evolution. But the Scopes court case and growing Christian fundamentalism helped eliminate evolution in textbooks. It was brought back in the 1960s by the National Science Foundation. Anti-evolution picked up again in the 1970s and evolution disappeared from textbooks. In the mid-1980s, Texas required evolution in its textbooks, and California wanted junior high school science books to include evolution. Then a Supreme Court ruling in 1987 struck down an effort to have creation science taught with evolution.

From there, a new form of creationism came about--intelligent design, Scott says. Its premise is that some things in nature are so complex that they couldn't have come about through nature, but from an intelligent source. But there is no proof, Scott says.
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Title Annotation:Update: education news from schools, businesses, research and government agencies
Author:Pascopella, Angela
Publication:District Administration
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:505
Previous Article:Educators find little to like in Bush budget.
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