Here's what they're saying about the workshop at the AAAS that I was part of
yesterday. I'll forward a few more reports also.
attached mail follows:
September 27, 2000, Wednesday, FIRST EDITION
SECTION: LIFE; Pg. 11D
19 states get a bad grade for their teaching of evolution
BYLINE: Mary Beth Marklein
More than one-third of the states (19) do an "unsatisfactory to dreadful job"
of including evolution in public school science standards, including 12
states that shun the "E-word" and four that avoid the subject, says a study
The rest do "at least a satisfactory job," says the study, "Good Science, Bad
Science: Teaching Evolution in the States," published by the Thomas B.
Fordham Foundation and presented at a meeting of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science.
In some cases, weak treatment of evolution reflects poor science standards
overall, the study says. But author Lawrence Lerner, professor emeritus at
California State University at Long Beach, says states with large populations
of Protestant evangelicals are most likely to "find it necessary to wrestle
with the teaching of evolution."
While critics of evolution are diverse, many of the weakest state standards,
he says, reflect the views of creationists, who argue that God created humans
But some skeptics of evolution say Lerner and other supporters of evolution
oversimplify the debate.
"They like to define the debate in a way that favors their position, so any
critic of Darwinism is called a creationist," says Jonathan Wells, a senior
fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle non-profit group that supports
research critical of Charles Darwin's theories.
In his book Icons of Evolution, to be published in October by Regnery
Publishing, Wells evaluates 10 biology textbooks used in U.S. schools and
finds all of them biased. "Even worse than not teaching evolution is teaching
them falsehoods masquerading as evidence," he says.
In a statement, the Discovery Institute says the Fordham study "encourages
precisely the sort of bad science it pretends to criticize."
Kansas, which made national news last fall when the state school board
removed references to evolution from state standards proposed by a group of
scientists, fared the worst in the Fordham study, earning an F-minus. Lerner
calls the standards there "a disgraceful paean to antiscience."
That could change. Voters in August ousted some of the board's
anti-evolutionists in a Republican primary, and new candidates are promising
to change the standards.
Lerner graded state standards in 49 states and the District of Columbia (Iowa
does not write statewide academic standards in any subjects). His grades were
based on nine criteria, including whether the term evolution is used; how
biological, human and geological forms of evolution are treated; whether
creationist language is used; and whether teachers are required to issue a
disclaimer when they discuss evolution in class.
Aside from Kansas, his state grades, with sample comments:
* A. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana ("exemplary and
straightforward"), New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
* B. Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont,
* C. Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska ("decent treatment of evolution marred by
the incursion of creationist notions"), Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Texas.
* D. Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin.
* F. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North
Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming.
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