Saturday, October 20, 2007


Florida Keys

Chimp contemplationFlorida has taken a first step towards implementing truly 21st century science standards for schools that, among other things, clearly identify evolution as one of the "big ideas" in science that should be taught in depth. This is in contrast to the old standards that did even use the word "evolution."

Beginning this past May, a group of teachers, professors and others started rewriting the science standards.

The draft standards are based on those used in other countries with top science-education programs, such as Finland and Singapore, and the recommendations of national education and science groups. They reduce the number of topics students are taught and push for a deeper understanding of key "big ideas," one of which is "evolution and diversity."

Supporters of science education think well of the draft:

Joe Wolf, president of Florida Citizens for Science, called the draft standards a "wonderful" blueprint for science education. Wolf said the evolution debate holds little interest to most scientists, who accept it as fact. That's why the issue did not become controversial during the standards-writing meetings, he said.

"It's a P.R. issue," he said. "And it's a religious issue. In the scientific community, it's not an issue."

There was at least one data point in favor of the Salem Hypothesis, however:

Fred Cutting, a retired engineer who served on the standards committee, wanted the new document to reflect that latter view and to let students know that scientists do not yet have all the answers.

"If you want students to understand the theory, they have to understand the pros and cons," he said, adding that the draft presented too "cut-and-dried" a view of evolution.

Although Mr. Cutting apparently failed to slow down or reverse the push for good education, the standards are hardly home free yet:

The public has 60 days to comment on the changes. Then they go to the State Board of Education as early as January for approval.

There will doubtless be much comment such as the following ignorant babble:

Orange County-based television evangelist John Butler Book took a harder line, saying he would support that standard only if creationism also were taught.

"Evolution is an educated guess," Book said. "It cannot be demonstrated. That we came from an ape is absolutely ridiculous."

What is ridiculous is the ape spouting that nonsense.

Update: Pete Dunkelberg has more on Florida's draft standards and Mr. Cutting at the Panda's Thumb.

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