Examine the data and observations supporting the conclusion that one-celled organisms evolved into increasingly complex multi-cellular organisms.IDnet–NM formally asked the State Board to replace that statement with this one:
Evaluate the data and observations that bear on the claim that one-celled organisms evolved into increasingly complex multi-cellular organisms.And what was finally adopted? Here's the statement the State Board approved 13–0 on August 28, 2003:
Understand the data, observations, and logic supporting the conclusion that species today evolved from earlier, distinctly different species, originating from the ancestral one-celled organisms.There were sixteen other changes proposed by IDnet–NM, and none of those was accepted by the Board of Education. IDnet–NM's plea to the board to delete the phrase "Explain how natural selection favors individuals who are better able to survive, reproduce, and leave offspring" was denied, as were all the rest of their suggestions. (For details, see the article "Do NM's science standards embrace intelligent design?" available on-line at http://www. nmsr.org/embrace.htm.)
While much language in the standards was not changed, an important caveat was added which stated in part, " ... these standards do not present scientific theory as absolute. ...
Further, "for-the-record" questions posed by ID-net confirmed that the SDE's [State Department of Education] intent for the new standards was that (1) evolution would not be taught as absolute fact and (2) teachers would be allowed to discuss problems with evolution.
Renick's final evaluation of the situation: "If there is ever a dispute over intent and meaning of the Standards in the area of biological evolution, these policy statements may be referenced for clarification ... [and] will essentially neutralize the impact of the remaining dogmatic language.
Strand III, Content Standard V-A, Benchmark 9–12.16:Even the word "controversy" does not appear anywhere in the standards.
"[Students shall] [u]nderstand that reasonable people may disagree about some issues that are of interest to both science and religion (e.g., the origin of life on earth, the cause of the big bang, the future of earth)."
K-4 Benchmark II: Know that living things have similarities and differences and that living things change over time.and:
5-8 Benchmark II: Understand how traits are passed from one generation to the next and how species evolve.
9-12 Benchmark II: Understand the genetic basis for inheritance and the basic concepts of biological evolution.
Strand II, Standard II, 5–8 Benchmark II:and:
Biological Evolution7. Describe how typical traits may change from generation to generation due to environmental influences (e.g., color of skin, shape of eyes, camouflage, shape of beak).
8. Explain that diversity within a species is developed by gradual changes over many generations.
9. Know that organisms can acquire unique characteristics through naturally occurring genetic variations.
10. Identify adaptations that favor the survival of organisms in their environments (e.g., camouflage, shape of beak).
11. Understand the process of natural selection.
12. Explain how species adapt to changes in the environment or become extinct and that extinction of species is common in the history of living things.
13. Know that the fossil record documents the appearance, diversification, and extinction of many life forms.
Strand II, Standard II, 9–12 Benchmark I:and:
Biodiversity8. Understand and explain the hierarchical classification scheme (i.e., domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species), including:
classification of an organism into a category
similarity inferred from molecular structure (DNA) closely matching classification based on anatomical similarities
similarities of organisms reflecting evolutionary relationships.
9. Understand variation within and among species, including:
mutations and genetic drift
factors affecting the survival of an organism
Strand II, Standard II, 9–12 Benchmark II:
Biological Evolution8. Describe the evidence for the first appearance of life on Earth as one-celled organisms, over 3.5 billion years ago, and for the later appearance of a diversity of multicellular organisms over millions of years.
9. Critically analyze the data and observations supporting the conclusion that the species living on Earth today are related by descent from the ancestral one-celled organisms.
10. Understand the data, observations, and logic supporting the conclusion that species today evolved from earlier, distinctly different species, originating from the ancestral one-celled organisms.
11. Understand that evolution is a consequence of many factors, including the ability of organisms to reproduce, genetic variability, the effect of limited resources, and natural selection.
12. Explain how natural selection favors individuals who are better able to survive, reproduce, and leave offspring.
13. Analyze how evolution by natural selection and other mechanisms explains many phenomena including the fossil record of ancient life forms and similarities (both physical and molecular) among different species.
From the beginning of the development of these science standards to their adoption by the State Board of Education, we were guided by two principles. First, important content should be introduced in early grades and strengthened year after year, so that our students will be scientifically literate when they leave high school. Since evolution is the only accepted scientific theory of the history and unity of life on earth, it is unambiguously central to our life-science standards, beginning in middle school and with increasing sophistication in high school. Second, students should understand the process of scientific inquiry in addition to specific scientific content, so our standards require that students learn to use scientific thinking to develop questions, design and conduct experiments, analyze and evaluate results, make predictions, and communicate findings. In a classroom where those standards are met, students will understand that scientific methods produce scientific knowledge that is continually examined, validated, revised, or rejected, and they will understand the difference between scientific knowledge and other forms of knowledge.Sharon Dogruel, Program Manager, Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Technologies, said:
Mr Renick tried to use our scientific-inquiry standards to attack our life-science standards when he addressed the Board of Education on the day of their final deliberations. However, the members of the New Mexico Board of Education saw science as a unified whole, not as a house divided against itself, and unanimously adopted the standards without modification or caveat.
Over 14 months, members of the science standards writing team worked diligently to craft standards in which science content, scientific thinking and methods, and societal and personal aspects of science were integrated into a coherent framework for exemplary science education. Members of this team considered all issues at great depth and, in the area of biological evolution, they were confident that the standards respected the backgrounds and beliefs of all students while remaining perfectly true to science. Based on the extensive development and thorough public review process completed for the science standards, coupled with the strong support from New Mexico teachers, and the praise and congratulations from numerous state and national science organizations, the team and the Department recommended that the New Mexico State Board adopt the standards without further modification.It appears that Renick and the people he interrogated disagree about whether his comments reflected any reality in the standards. In our view, his behavior was boorish and his conclusions are disingenuous.
The board was poised for [its] final vote when Joe Renick attempted to distort the intention of the standards by suggesting that teachers had to treat evolution according to his own perspective. Using a tactic that focused on student inquiry, he tried to manipulate the meaning of scientific inquiry, as elaborated in the standards, into a discussion of a controversy that may be political, philosophical, or even religious, but is not scientific. The writing team was clear: There is no controversy regarding the principles of evolution as presented in the standards. Mr Renick's attempt to undermine the standards failed.
I was appalled at this attempt to discredit the hard work of so many educators, scientists, parents, and the public, including Mr Renick's fellow members of NM IDnet. Any statements that the New Mexico science standards open the door to "alternatives to evolution" or that science instruction in New Mexico should cast doubt on the principles of evolution are completely false. New Mexicans can be extremely proud of their science standards, and it is unfortunate that some people continue to advance misrepresentations at a time when we need support for strong science education.
The Public Education Department requires all school districts to align their curricula to the New Mexico Science Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Performance Standards. Therefore, all science teachers in New Mexico should be teaching about evolution in the appropriate grades and courses, according to their districts' curricula.So far, nothing that the "intelligent design" movement has produced meets the criteria of acceptance by mainstream science or is consistent with sound scientific inquiry.
Further, because of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and a wide-reaching United States Supreme Court case, New Mexico public schools are not permitted to endorse a particular religion, teach religion, or teach "creation science" or any of its variations that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.
… Third, the state must remain neutral in matters pertaining to religion. In no way do the science standards support the teaching of notions of intelligent design or creation science or any of its variations.
Fourth, fundamental to science and the New Mexico science standards is the role of inquiry in learning about the world. There is no place in science instruction for the teaching of notions that are not or have not been investigated through rigorous scientific means or that are not consider by the mainstream scientific community to be consistent with sound scientific inquiry.
I was appalled when President Bush signaled his support for the teaching of 'intelligent design' alongside evolution in public K–12 science classes. Though I respect and consistently protect the rights of persons of faith and the curricula of religious schools, public school science classes are not the place to teach concepts that cannot be backed up by evidence and tested experimentally.He added, "It is irresponsible for President Bush to cast 'intelligent design' — a repackaged version of creationism — as the 'other side' of the evolution 'debate.'" His incisive essay ends with the sobering thought, "When the tenets of critical thinking and scientific investigation are weakened in our classrooms, we are weakening our nation. That is why I think the President's off-hand comment about 'intelligent design' as the other side of the debate over evolution is such a great disservice to Americans."