Creationism looses in Michigan. HOOOORAAAAH!!!
Evolution backed for science teaching
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
By Judy Putnam
LANSING -- Michigan's science educators must teach evolution, not creationism, the state Board of Education decided unanimously Tuesday.
The board's vote on high school course content leaves intelligent design shut out of public school science classrooms, at least for now. But educators say there is room to discuss intelligent design outside of science class, perhaps in courses such as philosophy.
The board agreed with testimony from the Michigan Science Teachers Association and educators from six colleges and high schools.
Gregory Forbes, a Grand Rapids Community College biology professor and evolution specialist, told the board that raising questions about evolution incorrectly "suggests to students that for some reason evolutionary theory is no longer a robust theory."
The board's 8-0 vote simply sliced the word "may" out of curriculum rules for classes such as Earth science and biology. The language previously said fossil records and other evidence "may" support the theory of evolution, which critics said opened the door to teaching creationism.
"In my view, the word 'may' clouds the science," said board member Reggie Turner, D-Detroit.
The new state expectations make it clear that intelligent design isn't to be taught in science class, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said.
"The board didn't want to be ambiguous at all."
Kids in biology will now have to "Explain how a new species or variety originates (rather than "may originate") through the natural process of evolution." They also will be asked to show how fossil records, comparative anatomy and other evidence supports the theory of evolution rather than "may" support it.
The decision aligns with the philosophy of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has said intelligent design can be taught in a current events or comparative religion class, but not in science class.
Her Republican opponent, Dick DeVos, has said local districts should decide whether to teach it alongside evolution.
Science standards were worked out by a subcommittee of science educators convened by the Department of Education in June, after receiving public input and a review by a larger panel of scientists, said Jeremy Hughes, deputy state superintendent.
That input included requests from lawmakers who wanted evidence for and against evolution to be included in the science standards.
That's a "teaching the controversy" tactic of intelligent design proponents, said Robert Pennock, a Michigan State University philosopher of science who was called as an expert witness in a U.S. Supreme Court case on intelligent design last year.
"This is language that is the current sharpening of the intelligent design wedge," he said.
Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, said he was surprised the language was removed.
He attended the meeting, but left before the words were deleted.
He and some other lawmakers argued there are gaps in the fossil record that students should learn to question when studying evolution.
"I'm very disappointed," he said. "To kind of pull this at the last minute is a tremendous disservice."
He said the standards shut out questions that should be asked.
"It kind of sets the tone: No, no, no. You can't go there," he said.
He said the content expectations will clarify what should be taught and make the subjects uniform across the state.
Approval of the standards was postponed last month to allow lawmaker input, as required by a state law. Hoogendyk and Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, wanted even stronger language questioning evolution, specifically that fossil records and other evidence "may or may not" support evolution.