Superintendent Takes Heat for Omitting the Word “Evolution” in Draft
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.
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.
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
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.