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 Main NSTA Website | Become an NSTA Member | Register for a Convention | Career Center | NSTA Express Feedback | February 2, 2004

Georgia Superintendent Takes Heat for Omitting the Word “Evolution” in Draft Science Standards

From Atlanta to New York to Los Angeles, news spread like wildfire last week about Georgia State Superintendent Kathy Cox’s decision to omit the word “evolution” from new draft science standards for middle and high school students. The Georgia Department of Education posted the draft standards on its web site on January 12. The media caught wind of the glaring omission in the standards last week, and by January 30 and over the weekend, news stories appeared in newspapers and media web sites across the country. Even former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the issue, stating, "As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students." An online petition requesting changes to the draft standards has already collected more than 5,000 names.

Science education experts appointed by Cox recommended that the Georgia science standards be based on Project 2061’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy, which were developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and on the formulation of the benchmarks in the Council for Basic Education’s Standards for Excellence in Education. The standards recommended by the advisors represented the full vision of quality science education and met national and international standards. Unfortunately, the Superintendent’s office seriously weakened them by deleting the word “evolution,” opting instead for the euphemism “change over time” and omitting some central concepts having to do with evolution, such as reference to the age of the Earth, and misconstruing others.

According to the Georgia Department of Education’s web site, the proposed standards will be available for revision for a 90-day period that began on Monday, January 12, 2004. NSTA encourages its Georgia members to voice opposition to the draft standards and demand that they more fully represent the vision of the Benchmarks—and ultimately quality science education.

To view and comment on the standards, go to http://www.glc.k12.ga.us/spotlight/gps2.htm. For continuing updates on the evolution issue, go to NSTA’s WebNews Digest at http://www.nsta.org/mainnews. For a host of NSTA resources on this important topic, including our latest publication Evolution in Perspective: The Science Teacher’s Compendium, and the NSTA position statement on this issue, go to http://www.nsta.org/evresources. See also page 3 of the February/March issue of NSTA Reports for more details on NSTA’s resources for teaching evolution.