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Georgia Science Teachers Propose Changes

Associated Press

A dozen science teachers have proposed revising Georgia's biology curriculum to meet national standards while restoring the word "evolution."

Education officials hope the quick revision will end the well-publicized flap spurred when Superintendent Kathy Cox called for replacing "evolution" with "changes over time" in the curriculum. Cox reversed her position after a week of criticism from science teachers, college professors and politicians.

"We are confident that the document not only meets national standards, but will deliver the world-class curriculum that our board has requested and that our students and teachers deserve," Cox said in a statement.

A team of about a dozen science teachers met for more than three hours Thursday night to draw up the changes. Cox has assembled teams from every subject area to help revise a Georgia curriculum critics say is too broad.

The new draft, which the panel approved with little dissent, states that "molecular evidence substantiates the anatomical evidence for evolution."

The vast majority of scientists believe the theory of evolution - which states that all living life forms evolved from earlier, more primitive life forms - is the basis for the teaching of biology.

Some religious beliefs do not accept that view.

A new section of the proposed curriculum addresses possible controversy.

"Perhaps science courses can acknowledge the disagreement and concentrate on frankly presenting the scientific view," reads part of an overview section of the draft. "Even if students eventually choose not to believe the scientific story, they should be well informed about what the story is."

The changes were welcomed by political leaders, many of whom harshly criticized Cox's proposed removal of evolution.

"I'm delighted that the public response has been heard," said state Rep. Kathy Ashe, an Atlanta Democrat and member of the House Education Committee.

On Monday, some House Democrats proposed a bill to require a state curriculum that conforms to national standards. Ashe, the bill's sponsor, said the guidelines would prevent gaffes like the recent debate over evolution.

Republicans, who largely defended Cox's handling of the curriculum, argued that Ashe's bill is a power grab intended to give lawmakers more say over what's taught. GOP Rep. Brooks Coleman said national standards should be encouraged but not required.

After Cox's proposed change became public late last month, she said the concept would still be taught and that the word "evolution" would remain in textbooks.

But she said she hoped removing the word would take pressure off of teachers in socially conservative areas where it causes controversy among parents and school officials.

Former President Jimmy Carter and Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue were among the public leaders who spoke out against the proposal.

Department of Education officials now say wording has been restored that brings Georgia in line with most national teaching standards.

The state Board of Education will hold a special meeting next week to consider the change. If they approve, the new draft could become the official document they vote on in May.


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