A few days ago, our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) posted Evolution under attack in Arizona? We don’t know why they included a question mark in their title, because they reported, with our bold font:
As a draft of new science standards for Arizona are undergoing public comment, “experts are alarmed” about changes imposed by staffers at the department of education, KNAU in Flagstaff reports [Science Educators Raise Alarms about Revised K-12 Standards ] (May 14, 2018) — and evolution is affected.
“Department staff deleted or qualified the word ‘evolution’ throughout the document,” KNAU reports. NCSE’s deputy director Glenn Branch was quoted as saying, “We can [be] quite sure, I think, that the revisions are aimed deliberately at softening the treatment of evolution, and thus misleading teachers and students about the scientific standing of evolution.”
For example, where the writing committee’s version of a standard for the eighth grade explained, “the process of natural selection provides an explanation of how new species can evolve,” the revised version refers instead to “the processes by which a species may change over time in response to environmental conditions,” thus avoiding both the e-word and the idea of speciation.
It certainly sounds like the “staffers at the department of education” are a pack of drooling creationists. Today we found another news article on the situation. It’s at the website of TV station KPNX, an NBC affiliate. They’re channel 12 in Phoenix, Arizona, the state capital, so they call themselves 12News. Their headline is Arizona could roll back teaching of evolution in classroom. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections [that look like this]:
The teaching of evolution in Arizona classrooms could be taking a big step backwards. School Superintendent Diane Douglas is apparently behind a rewrite of science standards for all Arizona school children that would delete references to evolution.
Audio obtained by 12 News shows Douglas believes a version of creationism, called “intelligent design,” should be taught in tandem with evolution. The proposed science standards could leave it up to teachers to decide which one students should learn.
Ah yes, let the kiddies decide. Then 12News says:
Amber Struthers, a science teacher at the Jones-Gordon School in Paradise Valley, compares a rollback of evolution in the classroom to not teaching students about gravity. “This would be something I would definitely be incredibly uncomfortable with,” said Struthers, a teacher for 12 years with five science degrees [Wow!], including a doctorate. “It would be a huge missing gap (for students) in understanding core concepts in science,” she said.
Amber Struthers knows what she’s talking about. 12 News informs us:
Struthers was a member of a team of about three dozen Arizona teachers who drafted new science standards, which were presented to the Arizona Board of Education. It’s the first update in almost 15 years. … Struthers said the deletions went beyond the usual revisions by Department of Education staffers, which typically amount to no more than corrections of grammar.
After that, 12 News gets back to Diane Douglas, the creationist superintendent:
Back in November, Douglas, who is running for a second term this fall, shared her thoughts about the science standards at a Republican candidate forum in Tempe. “Should the theory of intelligent design be taught along with the theory of evolution? Absolutely,” Douglas said in response to a question, according to audio of the event provided to 12 News. “I had a discussion with my staff, because we’re currently working on science standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards we’re working on.” Jonathan Gelbart was the only one of five superintendent candidates at the forum to reject intelligent design.
M’god — except for Gelbart, they’re all drooling creationists! 12News continues:
The so-called “Theory of Intelligent Design” is a sophisticated update and rebranding of creationism — the religious belief in the existence of a creator. … In 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked a school district from teaching intelligent design, declaring it an unconstitutional advancement of a religious viewpoint in public schools.
That’s a reference to Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Here’s the end of the news article:
A Douglas spokesperson said she wouldn’t comment on the proposed standards until they come before the Arizona Board of Education for approval in June. The public can comment until May 28. You can provide feedback online at this link.
Okay, that’s the situation in Arizona. We’ll keep watching for updates, so stay tuned to this blog!
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