Florida Now Supports the Teaching of Evolution

on February 23, 2008

ScienceNOW: “Florida Gives Evolution a Thumbs-Up” The Florida Board of Education has passed new standards for science education that, for the first time in the state’s history, support the teaching of “evolution” (as opposed to more vague descriptions of Darwin’s theory).

Curiously, ScienceNOW reports that “scientists and educators in the state were disappointed with a last-minute revision in which the word ‘scientific’ was inserted before every mention of ‘theory’ in the 97-page document.” We would have thought evolutionist scientists and educators would have preferred the labeling of evolution as a scientific theory.

We would have thought evolutionist scientists and educators would have preferred the labeling of evolution as a scientific theory.

The new standards were approved by a narrow 4–3 vote (though one nay vote was a board member dissatisfied with the “scientific” addition), and at least 10 counties in Florida passed resolutions denouncing the new standards, reports ScienceNOW.

Not everyone was bothered by the last-minute edits, though. Well-known evolution defender Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education praised the passage, saying, “What’s important is that this allows teachers in Florida to present evolution to students as a strong scientific view that is based on evidence.” Our hope, however, is that in the classroom, most teachers will still end up treading quite carefully through the origin-of-life topic, and perhaps not present evolution to students in a dogmatic way.

As we’ve said before, though, this wouldn’t be such a hot topic if state-sponsored education wasn’t filled with Darwinian thinking, but was instead an open discussion of the different interpretations of the evidence. In every other academic field, students and teachers are expected to understand different ideas and the controversies behind them, yet in the origins debate, some ideas are simply off limits.

[Editor’s note: A reader informed us that the ScienceNOW article was slightly in error on one point, apparently. Rather than adding simply “scientific” before mentions of the word “theory” in the standards, other sources (including the Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel) say that the change placed “scientific theory of” in front of every major scientific concept (e.g., atoms, gravity) in the standards.]

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