For the first time ever, evolution is to be taught clearly and explicitly in Florida classrooms now that the Florida Board of Education Tuesday approved a batch of new science standards that says the ”E” word.
But there’s a catch: Evolution will be taught as “the Scientific Theory of Evolution.”
Previously, Florida’s science standards referred to evolution as “biological changes over time.” The shift to evolution was widely embraced by Florida’s scientists, school teachers, and university professors.
Yet a successful lobbying campaign by a coalition of conservative groups, such as the Christian Coalition of Florida and the Florida Family Policy Council, managed to convince the board to insert the caveat. They said they were “vigorously opposed” to the evolution language because it “clashes with their religious convictions or their personal beliefs that evolution has not been proved.”
Unfortunately, however, the right’s tactics seemed to be mostly driven by ignorance. At a public hearing, one Florida Panhandle resident held up two oranges and mockingly said that “after reading all the material” on evolution, he has a “conviction” that one of the oranges “is the first cousin of somebody’s pet cat” and the other, “the parent of somebody’s pet dog.” Watch it:
Years of evolution-less education have biased Florida residents. A recent St. Petersburg Times poll of Florida residents found that “only 22 percent want public schools to teach an evolution-only curriculum, while 50 percent want only faith-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design.” A 2005 national review gave Florida’s science standards a failing grade because of its “superficiality of the treatment of evolutionary biology.”