Douglas: Evolution being removed from Arizona science standards is not true

I am responding to a point of view by Thomas H. Wilson in your July 1, 2018 edition regarding the proposed science standards.

The current science standards are woefully out-of-date, last being updated in 2005. Coming up with new standards is a long and arduous task which takes a year or more to complete.

Diane M. Douglas

The draft science standards started with a period of public input, were created by a committee of teachers, reviewed by several outside technical experts as well as the internal subject experts at the department. We have also just completed a process of soliciting and accepting hundreds of comments.

Based upon the comments received the draft standards are going to be reviewed and revised once more by an independent group prior to going to the State Board of Education for a vote to adopt or reject them. The department is even forming a special group specifically just to review the evolution portion of the standards. It is therefore premature for people to make a judgment on what the final product will look like.

As Mr. Wilson points out, there is nothing in the draft science standards, nor has there ever been, addressing Creationism or Intelligent Design; the different theories of the creation of the universe are rightfully included in the History of World Religions. In fact, evolution is covered in the standards as a Core Idea that is built upon from kindergarten through the end of high school.

Mr. Wilson points out the importance of the Scientific Method, however, it was removed and had been rejected by the committee of educators who created the original draft standards. It was at my direction that the Scientific Method will even be included in the standards.

The controversy is misplaced and started with a newscast which mistakenly claimed evolution had been removed from the standards.

Wording was changed from the original draft, but if anything, evolution has been strengthened in the draft standards versus the current science standards.

The rewording was made to focus children on understanding all the definitions of evolution such as chemical, micro and macro evolution.

Our students should explore the similarity of living organisms and other evidence of evolution instead of simply accepting it by rote. Just as we teach the basis of mathematics and have children do “proofs” of known mathematical facts, our kids should be able to use the Scientific Method and other knowledge to understand science principles. Our children should be educated not indoctrinated.

I can certainly understand the angst of those who hear that evolution is being eliminated. This simply is not true. I firmly believe that when the final draft is released for review by the State Board of Education, such fears will be assuaged.

Editor’s Note: Diane M. Douglas is Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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