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January 29, 2004

Do the Evolution, Georgia Edition

Or, as some Georgia educators prefer, "Do biological changes over time."

I'm a little too outraged to comment on this story in detail, but the Georgia Department of Education has decided that the best way to correct the state's educational problems is to no longer require teachers to cover evolution in detail (if they mention it at all) in their science courses. As one proposal would have it, the word evolution would be replaced with the euphemism, "biological changes over time," because, as one educator suggests, evolution conjures up the image of that whole "man-monkey" thing.

Biology teachers across the state are rightly angry about the curriculum, with 26-year North Cobb High School biology teacher Wes McCoy pointing out that less experienced teachers will take their cue from the state requirements:

"They're either going to tread very lightly or they're going to ignore it," McCoy said. "Students will be learning some of the components of evolution. They're going to be missing how that integrates with the rest of biology."
More significantly, buried about fourteen paragraphs into the article, the author notes that
Georgia's curriculum exam, the CRCT, will be rewritten to align with the new curriculum. And the state exam is the basis for federal evaluation, which encourages schools and teachers to focus on teaching the material that will be tested.
So, in order to get federal funding, teachers will feel obligated to teach towards the state test, which will make it even less likely that Georgia students will have adequate understanding of evolution's importance to scientific theory.

Information about the proposed curriculum, including a contact page, is available here.

Updated to express further outrage.

Posted by chuck at January 29, 2004 10:38 AM

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Yowza. I'm a product of the Georgia public schools system and I think this is a really boneheaded move. I don't recall very much emphasis on evolution from my 10th grade AP Biology class as it was! My freshman year in college, I took a class called "Evolution" and was all excited about learning the secrets that I hadn't learned in high school. As I went through the class, I figured out that there was no great secret, no hidden agenda to do away with the Bible or with God. Regardless of whether you call it "biological changes over time" (as the Georgia proposal suggests) or "evolution," it's still the same durn thing. And it happens. And it doesn't mean that God isn't involved, you silly fundies!
*Rant over. whew!*

Posted by: natalie at January 29, 2004 11:30 AM

I'm also a product of the Georgia public school system, and I don't remember much discussion of evolution, either, but I honestly don't remember much about my science classes in the first place.

It's frustrating to see such policies tied to federal funding, too.

Posted by: chuck at January 29, 2004 11:54 AM

When was the Scopes Trial? The mid-1920s? Eighty years later, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose... Time for a remake of Inherit the Wind.

Posted by: mjones at January 29, 2004 10:11 PM

What's a few more ignorant people in Georgia? I am starting to believe that if people don't want their kids to know actual science, let them be stupid. Parent's fault. If the kids are bright and have an interest in science, they will figure out they need to study evolution.

Posted by: gttim at January 30, 2004 10:37 AM

The Chutry Experiment ends up at the top of the list in a Netscape search for "Evolution Georgia". Way to go, bloggers! Anyway, I saw the two articles on CCN.com, the second being a brief interview with Jimmy Careter; he's "embarassed." Chuck is too u[pset to write at length on this. I will add my two cents at http://corpus-callosum.blogspot.com

Posted by: Joseph at January 31, 2004 1:27 AM

I just heard about Carter's comments--glad to hear he's speaking up on this issue. Can't believe I hit number one on Netscape... What's amazing to me is that a very small percentage of people actually support this policy. Keeping my eye on the story...

Posted by: chuck at January 31, 2004 11:16 AM

Check out http://www.KathyCoxEvolve.com !

Posted by: KathyCoxEvolve at February 1, 2004 2:51 PM

Thanks for the link. I'll mention it in the main text of my blog.

Posted by: chuck at February 1, 2004 4:22 PM

I'm of the belief that children should be taught to think. I prefer that my children are taught all theories, taught to argue both sides of every issue and then be able to make choices for themselves. However, facts should be presented as facts and theories should be presented as theories. Actual science is facts that can be proven, like the fact that the earth revolves around the sun; no problem proving this. Evolution is not fact, it is completely theory; it can not be proven. There are facts that could lead one to believe in evolution. However, I revert back to teaching children to think for themselves.

Posted by: Richard Lowell at November 9, 2004 7:45 AM

I appreciate your openness here, but calling evolution a "theory" is more or less identical to calling garvity a "theory." It's the best explanation fo rthe effects we see on a daily basis.

I'd agree completely that students need to be given room to think for themselves, but there's a difference between teaching students critical thinking and representing widely accepted scientific theories as mere guesswork.

Posted by: chuck at November 10, 2004 9:38 AM

Richard, the difference between proof and evidence is an important distinction in science. Evidence either supports or doesn't support a hypothesis. When a substantial amount of evidence supports a set of hypotheses then that theory becomes the accepted theory. The posts on the Butterflies and Wheels blog discuss the proof/evidence divide quite well.

Posted by: Chris Martin at November 10, 2004 10:28 AM

There is no evidence or scientific basis for macro-evolution. Let me know if you come across them.

Also, in what way does macro-evolution not conflict with the Bible? One says Man evolved and not created by God while the other says Man was created by God. There is a complete contradiction!

Posted by: Ian Chua at June 22, 2006 2:14 PM

I have heard more comments on ignorant christians from ignorant aithiests than I like. Do you think that christians have the choice of ignorance when they must face evolution daily within the classroom. No it is all of you that are ignorant because we do not force are faith on you as you do on us. Yes you do have a belief and a faith because it takes much more faith to believe that this world was a mistake happened by chance rather than created by God. I have studied evolution, I know the theories, I believe it is easier to put faith in God then your theories. Before you call me or anyone else ignorant then check your self for ignorance and ask yourself how much you know of my theories on creation. Untill then... Keep your ignorance to yourself!

Posted by: Levi Althauser at November 15, 2006 2:23 PM

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