School Board votes: evolution is just a theory
School Board votes: evolution is just a theoryBy MARY MARAGHY, My Clay Sun - 1/19/2008 - originalDespite impassioned opposition from science experts, teachers and some clergy, Clay County School Board members unanimously resolved Tuesday night that evolution should be presented as a theory, and not fact, in the classroom.
The board passed a resolution, proposed by Superintendent David Owens, asking the Florida Department of Education to reword its newly proposed state standards, which presents evolution as "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported in multiple forms of scientific evidence."
Baker County approved a similar resolution Dec. 17.
"It's not like we're asking for permission to teach creationism or any of those things. What we're saying is let's not be so dogmatic in our approach," said Owens, who said it meets the needs of Clay County.
School Board attorney Bruce Bickner said evolution will continue to be taught and the resolution has no bearing on what is taught or what will be taught. It's just semantics, he said.
Objectors in the audience said the action squashed a major leap forward in science with far-reaching effects.
"Evolution is widely accepted in the science community as factual. Science education should reflect scientific consensus," said Paula Horvath-Niemeyer, a Keystone Heights parent of two teens and a University of North Florida faculty member.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said Linda Crawford, who said the action will make Clay County known for its objection to excellence in science education.
Chairwoman Carol Studdard said she felt many speakers didn't understand the issue.
Board members Carol Vallencourt and Charles Van Zant said they doubt the resolution will sway the Florida Department of Education to change the wording.
"We're beating a dead horse deader," Van Zant said.
Though he voted for the resolution, board member Wayne Bolla said he didn't think there is a difference in the word concept and theory.
Ridgeview High School teacher David Campbell, who helped create the standards, said the process took eight months of work and the standards reviewed by hordes of experts and a Nobel Prize winner.
"This resolution is seriously flawed and circulated by someone who doesn't understand science," he said. "The language says concept - a general principle, not fact. The word fact isn't there. The word fact was carefully avoided. We put the best science possible in the standards."
Flagler College student Kristine Hoppenworth of Middleburg was in tears after the vote.
"They weren't clear on what they were voting about," she said. "They are not listening to the public, not listening to the experts. I think it is reducing the study of science to school board politics."