Fwd: National survey gives New Mexico a C grade in teaching evolution

From: Ted Davis (tdavis@messiah.edu)
Date: Fri Sep 29 2000 - 11:06:19 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: asa-digest V1 #1804"

    attached mail follows:

    Albuquerque Tribune
    September 27, 2000, Wednesday

    National survey gives New Mexico a C grade in teaching evolution

    BYLINE: Lawrence Spohn lspohn@abqtrib.com / 823-3611

    For once New Mexico is not at the bottom of the heap, but it still only
    merited a C in how well its schools teach the scientific concept of

    The state was given 73 out of 100 possible points in a national assessment
    performed for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation on the way schools in each
    state teach evolution.

    New Mexico ranked 26th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The 51-page report, "Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the
    States," makes the point that the concept of evolution is not only the core
    of biology, but also of geology, physics, chemistry and astronomy.

    It concludes that political and religious impediments in many states to the
    teaching of evolution seriously handicap students' understanding not just of
    biology but all science.

    New Mexico Board of Education Chairwoman Flora Sanchez and Superintendent
    Michael J. Davis could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    Dave Thomas, president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, said: "I think
    before our standards were revisited last year and improved, we were going to
    get an F too." His organization's members were among scientists who
    successfully fought to change a state Board of Education standard last year
    that would have required New Mexico teachers to also present alternative
    views to evolution.

    "New Mexico has been making progress, but obviously there is still a lot of
    room for improvement," Thomas said.

    The report was issued Tuesday at a symposium in Washington, D.C.

    Written and researched by Lawrence S. Lerner, professor emeritus in the
    College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at California State University at
    Long Beach, the report ranked states based on their evolution education

    It slams 19 states for a "weak to reprehensible job of teaching evolution, in
    most cases making it nearly impossible to teach the sciences properly."

    Ten of these states "never use the word evolution (in the curriculum), and
    three entirely avoid teaching biological evolution," according to the report.

    Kansas, which ranked last, "goes so far as to delete all references, direct
    or indirect, to the age of the Earth or the universe, including even
    radioactive decay," according to Lerner. It was the only state receiving a
    grade of F-.

    In a statement issued today, Lerner said, "Almost all science is the study of
    evolution of one system or another.

    "Given the far-reaching ramifications of evolution in the life sciences to
    say nothing of the other historical sciences a complete and proper exposition
    of evolution is an essential component of state science standards.

    "Shortchanging, distorting or omitting evolution not only harms the teaching
    of life sciences, but makes it difficult for the student to come to a clear
    understanding of how science works," Lerner said.

    Thomas said anti-evolution groups have tried to cast the issue in terms of
    local control of schools or giving equal time to opposing views.

    But he said the opposing views simply are not science, and teachers need to
    be able to follow basic national standards that provide an equitable science
    education to all students.

    "The speed of light is the same in Datil as it is in Espanola," he said. "The
    charge of an electron is the same in Kansas as it is in New Mexico. And two
    plus two is four, no matter where you are."


    "Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the States" can be viewed
    at or downloaded from the Fordham Foundation at www.edexcellence.net.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Sep 29 2000 - 11:07:25 EDT