Evolution safe in Michigan


At its October 10, 2006, meeting, the Michigan state board of education voted unanimously to approve a set of content expectations for the new high school graduation requirements in science in which evolution is appropriately treated. Previously, in September, the board voted to defer considering the content expectations for a month, at the behest of antievolution legislators who apparently sought to lobby for the weakening of evolution. But in the end, the Detroit Free Press (October 11, 2006) reported [Link broken], it was "clear which concept won the debate between evolution and intelligent design." A press release issued on October 10, 2006, by the Michigan Department of Education emphasized, "In approving the Science content expectations, the State Board also solidified its strong support for Evolution."

The treatment of evolution in the content expectations was in fact slightly improved, thanks to the testimony of concerned citizens, including the Michigan Science Teachers Association and Robert T. Pennock and Gregory Forbes of Michigan Citizens for Science. The Grand Rapids Press (October 11, 2006) reported [Link broken], "Kids in biology will now have to 'Explain how a new species or variety originates (rather than "may originate") through the natural process of evolution.' They also will be asked to show how fossil records, comparative anatomy and other evidence [support] the theory of evolution rather than 'may' support it." These revisions are especially striking, since antievolutionist legislators were reportedly [Link broken] pushing to have "may" replaced with "may or may not" (Detroit Free Press, September 14, 2006).

Members of the board of education were outspoken about their support for the integrity of evolution education. The board's vice president, John C. Austin, was quoted in the Michigan Department of Education's press release as explaining, "We do not want to create any uncertainty in the Board's support of Evolution ... We need to send a clear statement that there is no ambiguity on the part of the Board that Evolution is good science." Board member Reginald Turner agreed, "Science supports Evolution in the way it's set forth in the content expectations before us," adding, "The word 'may' clouds the science of Evolution after decades of scientific evidence, and is inconsistent with what we know about Evolution today."