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Creationism in the Alabama standards?

A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Education claims that creationism is presented in the state education standards. Michael Sibley, the department's director of communications, told Fox News (March 24, 2011) by e-mail that the Alabama Course of Study, while not addressing creationism individually, "deals with Theories of Evolution," adding, "Creationism is one of those theories. The Alabama Course of Study presents each of these so that students can draw their own conclusion for themselves."

In fact, the Alabama Course of Study: Science for grades 9-12, adopted in 2005, refers (document, p. 41) to "the theory" — not "theories" — of evolution. But the treatment of evolution in the standards is extraordinarily poor, receiving the grade of F in Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates's survey of the treatment of evolution in the science education standards of all fifty states, published in Evolution: Education and Outreach in 2009. Indeed, the word "evolution" itself is explicitly used only once in the Biology Core section of the standards.

Moreover, Alabama is the only state to have a disclaimer about evolution, with three different versions appearing in the 1995, 2001, and 2005 editions of the Alabama Course of Study: Science. Although evolution is no longer described as 'controversial' in the 2005 version of the disclaimer, as it was in the 1995 and the 2001 versions, it is the only area of science explicitly identified (document, p. v) as facing "unanswered questions and unresolved problems" (although the preface adds, "There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life," a phrase from the earlier versions of the disclaimer).

The Alabama state board of education required the 1996 version and then the 2001 version of the disclaimer to be affixed to biology textbooks in the state; the recent gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, who served on the board from 1994 to 2002, was presumably referring to them when he proclaimed, "I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books" (quoted by CBS News, May 11, 2010). On November 10, 2005, the board voted to continue to require the affixing of the 2001 version of the disclaimer to biology textbooks.