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New Mexico: Science standards changes draw protest

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Image result  From Stephen Sawchuk at Education Week:

A standard dealing with the process of evolution deletes that word entirely, replacing it with a standard that asks students to construct an explanation based on evidence that biological diversity is “influenced by” things like competition for limited resources, the proliferation of organisms that are better equipped to survive, and genetic variations in species.

The proposed changes have brought a groundswell of criticism, both locally and throughout the country. Over 60 scientists associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory took out a full-page ad in the Santa Fe paper of record, the New Mexican.

“There is absolutely no scientific rationale for weakening the treatment of these subjects in New Mexico K-12 education,” the scientists wrote.

Over the weekend, a group of scientists led a “teach in” to protest the changes. It was organized in part by a member of the Santa Fe school board, which opposes the changes, in front of the state education department, which is also located in Santa Fe. More.

Apart from the fact that the standards should use the term “evolution” for clarity, it’s hard to see what the fuss is about unless it’s just the Darwin-in-the-schools’ lobby’s familiar End of Science rent-a-riot.

Is biological diversity not “influenced by” things like competition for limited resources, the proliferation of organisms that are better equipped to survive, and genetic variations in species”?

Unless forbidden to do so, one could introduce every credible known mechanism by which life forms change over time. One should add the fact that some life forms do not appear to change much at all for very long periods (stasis). That is, there isn’t a “law” of evolution that says they must change.

One problem is that many teachers may not be equipped to handle a curriculum where students must grapple with the topic instead of learning it by rote. But then what is education supposed to be about today anyway…?

In the Internet age, learning by rote is much less useful than it used to be and learning to organize information is much more so. Anyway, evolution is history (not theology) and history can be fun.

See also: Zombie Killer: The “Icons of Evolution” Have Joined the Ranks of the Undead

What the fossils told us in their own words

Jumpin’ Genes!: A quarter of cow DNA came from reptiles? Maybe via parasites. If jumping genes can be this prevalent, evolution is about to become way more complex than the storied Tree of Life hammered into kids at school.

Rob Sheldon challenges zoo-ocentric thinking in evolution

2 Replies to “New Mexico: Science standards changes draw protest

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    No one knows what evolution is anymore. Over at TSZ people are arguing that DNA replication is evolution. It appears to be whatever you need it to be in order to serve the exigencies of the moment.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Perhaps they should teach students that there are several meanings of the word “evolution”. And that you can accept one, two or several of those definitions without having to accept them all. Also that showing biology conforms to one or several of those definitions doesn’t mean it conforms to all. And that by rejecting one or a few of those definitions does not make you an anti-evolutionist.

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