Breaking FL News: Evolution In, As ‘Scientific Theory’

19 02 2008

ABC News:
Science Standards Will Call Evolution ‘Scientific Theory’

First Time Word Evolution Has Been Included in School Standards

Florida’s State Board of Education has voted to use the term “scientific theory of evolution” in new science standards, the first time the word “evolution” has been included.  Florida’s current standards require the teaching of evolution using code words like “change over time.”

Adding the term “scientific theory” before the term “evolution” was a modified proposal at least one board member called a compromise, not standards proposed originally to the committee. The option to include “scientific theory” was made late last week.

The board narrowly passed the proposed change, voting 4-3, after more than an hour of public comment and additional discussion by the board.

Before the board voted, board member Roberto Martinez took issue with including “scientific theory” before “evolution” in the standards. He joked that the option “evolved very quickly” over the past “seven days.”

evolution_080103_ms.jpg

He quickly became serious, however, charging that the revision had been made to “placate” people who disagreed with the standards. He said they were also not vetted thoroughly as the original standards.

“We’re watering down the best possible standards we could have,” he said, calling the option “second-best.”

Board member Donna Callaway, meanwhile, called the insertion “a very minimal addition.”

Board Chairman T. Willard Fair voted last and essentially broke a tie among members.

Not everyone was pleased with the outcome, however.

Terry Kemple, the executive director of the Community Issues Council in Tampa, opposed adding language ‘scientific theory’ during public comments. Kemple has said he supports the current science standards as they are.

In his group’s opinion, he said, adding “scientific theory does not begin to even address the problems” with the standards, which were drafted over approximately the past year.

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13 responses

19 02 2008
JJ

See comments here too.

This morning the Orlando Sentinel had a report about two lawmakers who spoke in favor (I think??) of evolution in state science standards, one R and one D. It used a phrase I think is telling, that this battle “deals with the intersection of the two things most important to most people — their faith and their children’s education.”

Orlando Sentinel this morning — More from Aaron Deslatte, our reporter in Tallahassee:

House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, implored the board to adopt the proposed science standards unchanged and to ignore the new version released Friday. He politely warned the board that the DOE was “behaving like the Florida Legislature” by floating a compromise negotiated in private.

Gelber called Florida’s current standards a “joke” and said the state should not encourage teachers to blend science and faith.

“This is a difficult issue,” he said. “It deals with the intersection of the two things most important to most people — their faith and their children’s education.”

About one-third of the audience applauded Gelber.

He was followed by Rep. Ed Homan, a Tampa Republican, who said he “failed to see the difference between creation and evolution,” arguing he felt God had achieved his work through the process of macro-evolution, or change between species over time.

“This is not a scientific theory. This is the way things happened. Evolution is the way our Creator made this happen,” he said.

19 02 2008
JJ

I’ve been reading some Dawkins. He argues that the old state standards were just as bad for theocrat dominionist types, really, because any “change over time” is the real sticking point, what they must deny in order to peddle a literalist Bible version of reality that still dictates everything in the world as it did then.

So biology, technology and most other sciences and arts, as well as global “zeitgeist” changes over time such as women’s rights and other civil rights including the end of slavery, are quite inconvenient!

19 02 2008
JJ

Orlando Sentinel coverage – the different “no” votes are interesting here

19 02 2008
JJ

The Science of Belief in the London Times – new research grant is interesting too

20 02 2008
JJ

What went on in the Florida debate and final 4-3 vote — the Miami Herald reports that “homeschooling” and private schooling came up as a creationist threat to the Board (sigh) and then describes how the battle is being waged, with both sides looking for the unexpected spokesperson with credibility in the opposite camp:

John Stemberger, an activist with Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, said the standards go too far, unfairly muzzle teachers and will lead more people to pull their kids out of public schools in favor of home-schooling and private education.

Stemberger was one of the 10 opponents to the standards who spoke alongside the 10 supporters before the board voted Tuesday.

ROLE REVERSALS

The roles seemed reversed, with evolution supporters talking about God and critics talking about science and the need for inclusive learning.

Illustrating the apparent role reversals: Presbyterian pastor Brant S. Copeland of Tallahassee supported the standards as written and said evolution has helped shed light on God’s creation.

Others said that not teaching evolution would mean that Florida’s $600 million investment to lure bio-tech firms here is a waste, or that it would be tantamount to a Taliban-style religious fundamentalism.

On the other side: public school teacher David Brackin. He said the standards seem to discourage any teaching that questions evolution.

”There are cracks. There are holes,” Brackin said, noting research and study from the Intelligent Design movement, which posits that multiple forms of life show such complexity and evidence of design that they must have been made by some unnamed higher intelligence.

Brackin said he was concerned that the new standards wouldn’t allow him the freedom to teach some of the problems with evolution.

But board member Phoebe Raulerson said that’s not the case. She provided the second to board member Linda Taylor’s motion to add the ”scientific theory” language, but didn’t take up Callaway’s motion to add the ”academic freedom” provision because the standards already encourage critical thinking.

”One of the best parts [of the standards] is that we are trying to teach what is the scientific process,” she said.

Joining Taylor and Raulerson in backing the standards were Kathleen Shanahan and Chairman T. Willard Fair, who cast the deciding vote and quickly slipped out of the meeting during a break.

20 02 2008
JJ

Some homeschool advocates don’t think that such wacko creationism explicitly linking itself to homeschooling in a state education meeting, has anything to do with legislative and political defense of homeschool freedoms. In fact, they sound smug about it being a GOOD thing!

I am sorry to say I think they must just not be thinking at all.

20 02 2008
Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion « Cocking A Snook!

[…] you believe about science OR religion in politics, it’s high time to mind your head — time for your reason to think about your beliefs, try to get both on the same side at the same side, and then figure out what to teach your kids […]

21 02 2008
JJ

It is getting WEIRD out there, and if this isn’t time for better thinking, it’s only because it’s already too late!

Creationist paints evolution as racist
Letter to the Editor, Augusta Chronicle
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
(100 comments)

Mr. Ken Ham, founder of the Answers in Genesis organization, is coming to town to explain how evolution has incited racism and should be banned from the classroom.

According to Mr. Ham, evolution suggests some races are closer to apes than others. This is the latest creationist strategy to battle evolution, following the failure to get Intelligent Design recognized as science.

Evolution, in fact, denies racial superiority, claiming instead that all branches of man are equidistant from the apes as measured by generations. DNA studies show the branching of the races was so recent as to be negligible. We are not separate species, and with current rates of intermarriage, race itself will disappear in a few hundred years.

Moreover, evolution has never assumed any measure of superiority at all. If there is any yardstick of superiority in evolution, it would be the proliferation of offspring, by which the most recent census would place Hispanics above both African-Americans and whites, and fire ants above us all.

Mr. Ham seems to forget that for 300 years the Bible was quoted by Southern white preachers to support slavery, identifying Africans as descendants of Noah’s son Ham (no relation to Ken). Noah cursed Ham’s children to enslavement after Noah got drunk and naked and Ham failed to cover him up.

Come on, Mr. Ham. Are we to keep a literal interpretation of Genesis at all cost? Should we hide from our children the Hubble telescope pictures which still haven’t found the firmament holding back the waters of chaos? And how is it that God created night and day on the first day, photosynthetic plants on the third, but didn’t create the sun until day four?

Let us enjoy the spiritual truths of the Bible without insisting on its clearly bad science.

Joe Fausnight, Evans

23 02 2008
JJ

“Book Makes Case For Using Evolution In Everyday Life”

ScienceDaily (Jun. 28, 2007) — Evolution is not just about human
origins, dinosaurs and fossils, says Binghamton University evolutionist
David Sloan Wilson. It can also be applied to almost every aspect of
human life, as he demonstrates in his first book for a general audience,
Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think
About Our Lives
(Bantam Press 2007). . .

25 02 2008
JJ Ross

About The Culture of School as not suited to real scientific inquiry anyway:

Are we just a pretend world of fashionable thought, obsessed with trying to look and feel smart for each other, neglecting and perhaps unable to actually BE smart and DO smart?

Pink, Oprah and JK Rowling fighting “Thin is in” face stupidity both cultural and critical, a telescoping of intellect and imagination into a one-dimensional reflective surface, thinking selves starved for sustenance, belief and skepticism simultaneously out of whack in their daily diet of thought, causing chronic, clumsy, often crippling cultural malnourishment of epidemic proportions.

These all are problems that public education should be building cultures to combat, not to cement.

But in dispiriting fact, the standard-narrowed, uncertainty-fearing, control-freakish Culture of School works in the opposite direction from open science cultures that celebrate real smarts. If critical thinking is brain food, school is anorexia. . .

26 02 2008
More Than Self-Governing, Social Networks Are Self-Creating « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Could it be this emergent theory of human consciousness and experience of reality, rather than “evolution” per se, that is the elephant in education’s living […]

1 03 2008
Is Turkey More Enlightened and Braver Than Our Shining Nation? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] trying!) Quick, someone call the paternalist Texas megachurches before Tuesday’s primary! Your faith has been hijacked and enough thinking women so inclined, can use social contagion science to take back both Church […]

23 03 2008
Let’s Play “Lose Ben Stein’s Movie” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Thinking Parents surely know, the anti-science anti-human sophistry of former game show host Ben Stein is a movie called “Expell…, on its tightly controlled private propaganda tour prior to its actual “public” opening […]

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