Fwd: 19 states get a bad grade for their teaching of evolution

From: Ted Davis (tdavis@messiah.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 27 2000 - 12:34:21 EDT

  • Next message: Ted Davis: "Fwd: California Gets A' in Evolution Education; 19 other states fail to make the grad"

    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.

    Ted Davis

    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
    out Tuesday.

    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,
    South Carolina.

    * 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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