Confusion Around Release of MN Draft Science Standards

The first draft of new state science standards has been released by the Minnesota Department of Education and posted on its website. However, the version originally posted on September 9 was removed after a short time and replaced by a slightly different one. According to a September 10 report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press (headlined "Squelched Standards Hedged on Evolution") the only difference between the two versions was in "(h)ow they described the teaching of evolution. The version the public didn't see included words like 'might' and 'possible' at strategic points that clearly cast doubt on the certainty of biological evolution."

When members of the committee which wrote the draft complained that these changes in wording regarding evolution were made after they submitted the document to the Department of Education, that version was replaced by the department with the committee's original one. A spokesman for the department told the Pioneer Press that "the confusion was a simple mistake caused by several versions floating around the agency." Supporters of evolution education in Minnesota have been concerned about the treatment evolution might receive in the new standards because the state's Education Commissioner, Cheri Yecke, "has acknowledged her belief in creationism."

A series of public meetings will now be held around the state, ending October 24, to allow public comments on the draft standards. A second draft will then be written. The final draft must be presented to the state legislature by February 1, 2004. You can download a pdf copy [Link has expired] of the entire standards draft.