Tallahassee: The place where evolution stopped

Tallahassee: The place where evolution stopped
By Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel
A bill filed in the Florida Senate would require a “critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution,” and some scientists fear it will open the doors for another heated evolution debate in Florida.

The bill, SB 1854, was filed by Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, who has seemed mostly focused on his merit-pay plan for teachers this year.

The Florida Citizens for Science, an advocacy group that argues in favor of teaching evolution and better science instruction overall, says such bills are just an attempt to undermine lessons on evolution.

It notes that Wise filed a similar, and unsuccessful, bill in 2009, and has spoken in favor of “Intelligent Design,” an argument that an “intelligent cause” better explains living things than evolution by natural selection.

The debate over whether evolution should be taught in Florida was a fierce one several years ago, prompted by the re-writing of the state’s science standards (which called it a key “big idea” students needed to learn).

In 2008, the State Board of Education adopted the new standards that said evolution must be taught. Since then, there have been several attempts to change that legislatively.

Wise’s bill also deals with character education and the teaching of the Declaration of Independence, though those aren’t likely to generate as much debate.