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by Eric Meikle
The Alabama State Board of Education voted on November 8, 2001 to require that a statement referring to evolution as controversial be inserted in science textbooks. Since 1995 an evolution disclaimer (see below) has been pasted in Alabama's state-approved texts. Early this year the Board of Education adopted a new K-12 science education framework, the Alabama Course of Study: Science (ACOSS). Some observers had thought that Board might simply drop the previous disclaimer, given changes in ACOSS since 1995.
Minnesota school teacher Rodney LeVake sued his Faribault, MN, school district over his claim of a right to teach "evidence against evolution" and intelligent design theory. He lost in Minnesota district court, and lost at the state appeals court level. He has recently filed to appeal his case to the US Supreme Court. NCSE will keep you informed.
Representatives of nearly one hundred scientific societies and organizations have signed a letter asking Congress not to adopt the "Santorum Amendment" as part of the revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act now under consideration. The letter asks the House-Senate conference committee to remove a Senate resolution, sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, which singles out evolution as a controversial theory.
Pennsylvania's proposed new science education standards have been approved by both the House and Senate Education Committees. This final revision does not contain the potentially anti-evolution language originally contained in the draft standards. NCSE members and others opposed to opening the door for teaching of creationism in public schools have worked for more than a year to remove this ambiguity from the standards.
On August 13, 2001 the Lafayette School Corporation board was asked by a Jefferson High School chemistry teacher to remove a formal reprimand placed in his personnel file by the district's superintendent last September. The reprimand accused the teacher "of teaching religion through creationism in a classroom setting" according to a Lafayette Journal and Courier account.
On July 30, 2001 the North Branch school district board voted 4-3 to adopt an environmental science textbook which had been opposed by two board members because it doesn't mention creationism as an explanation of life and it doesn't refer to evolution as only a "theory". Review and debate about evolution began in June when the board's decision on possible texts was delayed because of objections to evolution. If the board hadn't chosen a book at their last meeting, the school year would have begun without an approved text.
On August 2 the Board of Education voted unanimously to retain the original language in Hawaii's science standards related to evolution. The Board had received several hundred messages on the subject, and heard from dozens of speakers supporting evolution education at the meeting.
On July 12, 2001 the Pennsylvania Board of Education gave final approval to revised science standards. Some language in preliminary versions of the standards had raised questions about their treatment of evolution. Science educators and other Pennsylvania citizens expressed concern that the proposed standards might open the way to teaching creationism in science classes because of ambiguous or unclear wording. However, the final standards do not contain these potential problems. The standards now must be approved by the legislature.
In early August, 2001 a committee of eight teachers and a high school principal in Chetek, Wisconsin decided that "biology lessons would be limited to the theory of evolution". The committee met this summer "to discuss teaching creationism and review the curriculum in the science class." The district superintendent formed the committee in response to a petition filed by parents in May asking that creationism and evolution both be taught in science courses.
House Bill 1323 was introduced in the General Assembly in January and referred to the Education Committee. The text of the bill reads: "Sec. 18. The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation." HB 1323 was not heard in committee before the General Assembly adjourned for the year. It is now listed on their website as "no longer under consideration".