Education Evolution Intelligent Design

Teaching the Controversy vs. Teaching ID

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This just in from a colleague of mine who focuses on the controversy over evolution in the public school science curriculum:

The following is a brief overview of legislation and other action at school boards concerning the teaching of evolution.

Many news stories and editorials from hyper-Darwinists and/or skeptics of the theory of intelligent design have claimed that 12, 15 or even 20 states are considering legislation to MANDATE the teaching of ID in schools. This is completely false. Most of the stories and op-eds making these claims have lumped together local school board, state school board and state legislative activity relating IN SOME WAY to the teaching of evolution, misrepresenting the situation by lumping them all together as “states considering the mandating of ID.” A short overview of recent activity at the local and state level is below.

In the past year, there has been local school board activity (however big or small) on the evolution issue in places such as Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Arkansas and Tennessee. But only SOME of these places deal with intelligent design, and even fewer deal with mandating it.

Within the last year, there been consideration at the State Board of Education level about teaching scientific criticisms of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory and chemical evolutionary theory in Kansas.

A list of legislation from the past year is below. It does not include the following situations:

a) Florida, where discussion about evolution and alternative theories came up in the context of a student academic bill of rights in Florida;

b) Texas, where discussion about treatment of evolution came up in the context of a legislator’s bill concerning general textbook adoption procedures; and

c) Utah, where we heard discussion by a legislator about instructing students in “divine design.” In the former two situations, there was no explicit or implicit mention of evolution, Darwin, design or creationism in the bills respective texts. In the latter situation, no bill has been filed.

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STATE LEGISLATION RELATING TO THE TEACHING OF EVOLUTION

1) Alabama: merely an anti-persecution act for teacher & students who discuss controversial scientific topics or the full range of scientific views on those topics;

2) Arkansas: recommends provisions be made to allow for teaching of ID, consistent with existing constitutional precedents;

3) Georgia: bill called for textbooks to include valid scientific evidence for and against evolutionary theory/human origins;

4) Kansas: House resolution repeating Santorum language to NCLB Act;

5) Mississippi: horrible bill conflating ID with creationism. This one called for “equal treatment” between that and evolutionary theory;

6) Missouri: bill calling for inclusion of critical analysis of evolution in textbooks, repeating much of the Santorum language;

7) Montana: there was a House bill in the drafting process–but NEVER submitted–that had a title stating “Allow for competing theories of origin”; there was also an anti-ID resolution in the legislature, blasting ID proponents;

8) South Carolina: would set up commission to study how evolution is taught, whether it should be and what the definition of science is [alive, I think…checking on this]

9) New York: bill would require all public school students in grades K-12 to be instructed “in both theories of intelligent design and evolution”;

10) Pennsylvania: House bill would permit local school boards to require students to learn about intelligent design theory of the origins of the earth and man where students are also taught about evolutionary theory.

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