Marine science textbook to be corrected


The antievolution sidebar in a marine science textbook recommended for approval in Florida will be removed. The textbook in question, Life on an Ocean Planet (Current Publishing, 2011), was under fire after the grassroots pro-evolution-education organization Florida Citizens for Science charged that its sidebar on "Questions about the Origin and Development of Life" was "simultaneously actively misinforming, at odds with state standards, and ultimately irrelevant to marine science."

The Orlando Sentinel (September 23, 2010) reported that state education officials stated that the publisher agreed to remove the sidebar, and a week later, the newspaper's education blog (September 30, 2010) quoted excerpts from e-mail correspondence from the publisher to the state department of education confirming that the sidebar would be removed: "We will also review all of the curriculum components and remove any content that refers to the information on these pages."

Eileen Roy, a member of the Alachua County School Board who was on the committee and voted against the textbook's approval, told the Sentinel's blog that she feared that the "very, very egregious ... discussion of evolution" might be reflected in the rest of the textbook. She also said that she worried that, if the textbook were approved, it would be adopted by the Florida county school boards that in 2008 adopted resolutions opposing the proposed improvements to the treatment of evolution in Florida's state science standards.

Subsequently, Dean Allen, the vice president and general manager of Current Publishing, told the Sentinel's education blog (October 4, 2010) that the sidebar was intended to provide a "critical thinking exercise for students" and not to undermine the teaching of evolution. "Everywhere else in the book we teach evolution," he said, "and we teach it to the Sunshine State standards." He confirmed that the sidebar would be removed from both the printed and the electronic version of the textbook.