We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Florida Follow-Up

Reactions to yesterday's Florida State Board of Education 4-3 vote to approve a revised version of the proposed new science standards (inserting the phrase "scientific theory of" before the word "evolution") are starting to come in. Teachers in Bradenton and Hillsborough County school officials, who are familiar with the debate, say the addition won't change much of what goes on in the classroom when it comes to teaching evolution. But Jane Pfeilsticker, a Manatee County school board member who was on the panel that worded the original version, is upset the panel didn't have a chance to review the new language and worries about the way Florida will be viewed by the scientific community. And other critics of the change, but for very different reasons (they believe the standards still don't go far enough in providing what they call "academic freedom"), say they plan to take their case to the Florida Legislature.
Some say the change actually bolsters the case for sound science. The board inserted "scientific theory of” before other widely accepted scientific ideas included in the standards—the standards now refer to the “scientific theory of atoms,” for example—making evolution appear no different than many other ideas on which there is scientific consensus. Students will also learn the scientific definition of a "theory" and how it differs from the everyday usage of the term. —Heather Wax