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A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the evolution disclaimer used in Cobb County, Georgia, took a step forward, when a federal judge ruled that the suit could proceed to trial.
The disclaimer, which is affixed inside the books used in Cobb County's public schools, reads, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
On February 19, the Georgia Department of Education released revised versions of proposed new science standards, with major changes in the sections dealing with evolution. When the drafts of the Georgia Performance Standards for Science were first released for public comment in January, the word "evolution," as well as most of the significant concepts related to this topic, were not included in them.
Georgia is in the process of revising its 1997 “Quality Control Curriculum” (QCC) science education standards. The previous standards received a grade of F on Dr. Lawrence Lerner’s 2000 evaluation of science education standards produced for the Fordham Foundation. The earlier standards used the word “evolution,” but according to Lerner, “not in a way that encourages clarification of its role in the life sciences.”
A Georgia newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published the results of its December 2002 "Voice of Atlanta" internet survey regarding evolution education. The results cannot be considered either accurate or precise, since they are not based on a random sample of the population. In addition, the single question asked was somewhat ambiguous:
Do you agree or disagree: The theory of evolution should be taught in public schools to the exclusion of all other theories, such as creationism or "intelligent design."
On January 8, 2003, the Cobb County, Georgia, School District issued guidelines that clarify the new “Theories of Origins” policy.
Contrary to some recent press reports, the "Theories of Origin" policy adopted by the Cobb County, Georgia, Board of Education on September 26, 2002, specifically disallows the teaching of creationism. As enacted, the policy explicitly states that, “It is the intent of the Cobb County Board of Education that this policy not be interpreted to restrict the teaching of evolution; to promote or require the teaching of creationism; or to discriminate for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, religion in general, or non-religion.”
The district’s current policy entitled "Theories of Origin" dates from 1995. It reads as follows:
The wording of HB 1563 resembles the "Santorum amendment" to last year's federal education bill, which was removed in conference committee. The phrasing matches the common rhetoric of such evolution opponents as intelligent design creationists. The relevant portion HB 1563 reads:
Over the objection of the standing room only crowd, the board voted unanimously to adopt the science textbooks, included in a $7.7 million package that also includes books for health and physical education.
House Bill 391 was introduced in the state legislature in February 2001, and referred to the Education Committee. The bill was not taken up in committee before the legislature adjourned on March 21. This bill would have allowed teachers "to present and critique any and all scientific theories" about "the origins of life and living things, including the origins of humankind." It also encouraged teachers "to make distinctions between philosophical materialism and authentic science..." Read the text of HB 391 at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2001_02/sum/hb391.htm