Monday, November 29, 2004

School science debate has evolved


The long-simmering battle over how evolution is taught in high school biology is boiling again.
Schools in Cobb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, placed this sticker in science textbooks.

Nearly 80 years after the famous "Monkey Trial," in which Tennessee teacher John Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution in violation of state law, 24 states this year have seen efforts to change the way evolution is taught.

And because of a requirement in the federal No Child Left Behind law that states must review science standards over the next two years, the debate is likely to intensify. That requirement provides an opportunity for critics of evolution to help reshape how it is taught in public schools.
The battlegrounds include small school districts as well as state school boards that write policy for every district in the state. Among them:

• In western Wisconsin, the small Grantsburg School District now requires that alternative theories of evolution be taught.

• In Ohio, the state school board passed a measure that encourages the teaching of evolution and "intelligent design," a hypothesis that says life is so complex that some intelligent force was responsible.

• In Kansas, the defeat this month of a "pro-science" incumbent on the state school board by a candidate who had questioned evolution has shifted the balance of power on the 10-member board and ensures that the issue will come up again. The board ended the teaching of evolution in 1999, then reversed that decision after a subsequent election. It has been deadlocked since.
Debates over religion, science and natural phenomena are not limited to schools and evolution. The bookstore at Grand Canyon National Park sells Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a Colorado River guide. The book says the Grand Canyon was created during Noah's flood, not through millennia of erosion by the Colorado River.

Story here.

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