Florida calls evolution 'scientific theory'

February 19, 2008 10:29:45 AM PST
Florida's State Board of Education has voted to use the term "scientific theory of evolution" in new science standards, the first time the word "evolution" has been included. Florida's current standards require the teaching of evolution using code words like "change over time."

Adding the term "scientific theory" before the term "evolution" was a modified proposal at least one board member called a compromise, not standards proposed originally to the committee. The option to include "scientific theory" was made late last week.

The board narrowly passed the proposed change, voting 4-3, after more than an hour of public comment and additional discussion by the board.

Before the board voted, board member Roberto Martinez took issue with including "scientific theory" before "evolution" in the standards. He joked that the option "evolved very quickly" over the past "seven days." He quickly became serious, however, charging that the revision had been made to "placate" people who disagreed with the standards. He said they were also not vetted thoroughly as the original standards.

"We're watering down the best possible standards we could have," he said, calling the option "second-best."

Board member Donna Callaway, meanwhile, called the insertion "a very minimal addition."

Board Chairman T. Willard Fair voted last and essentially broke a tie among members.

Not everyone was pleased with the outcome, however.

Terry Kemple, the executive director of the Community Issues Council in Tampa, opposed adding language 'scientific theory' during public comments. Kemple has said he supports the current science standards as they are.

In his group's opinion, he said, adding "scientific theory does not begin to even address the problems" with the standards, which were drafted over approximately the past year.