Georgia's Republican schools superintendent wants to clear something up:
A change that would strike the word "evolution" from Georgia's science classes is only a suggestion and far from becoming official policy, a spokesman for state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said Thursday.
Cox's proposal for new middle and high school science standards would ban references to "evolution" and replace it with the term "biological changes over time."
"The whole point for us is we really don't have a stance on the issue," said Cox spokesman Kirk Englehardt. "We're very open to hearing every side of the issue."
The proposed change is part of more than 800 pages of revisions to Georgia's curriculum that were posted Jan. 12 on the Department of Education Web site for educators to consider.
The new curriculum ... is expected to be voted on by the state Board of Education in May....
But hey, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this isn't provincial know-nothingism -- it's about freedom of choice!
Cox, a Republican elected to the state's top public school position in 2002, addressed the issue briefly in a public debate during the campaign. The candidates were asked about a school dispute in Cobb County over evolution and Bible-based teachings on creation.
Cox responded: "It was a good thing for parents and the community to stand up and say we want our children exposed to this [creationism] idea as well. . . . I'd leave the state out of it and I would make sure teachers were well prepared to deal with competing theories."
Well, sure -- except that a lot of the material on the one "theory" every respectable scientist on the planet believes has been snipped out, as has the name of that "theory."
So what happened?
The Georgia Department of Education based its biology curriculum on national standards put forth by a respected source, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But while the state copied most of the national standards, it deleted much of the section that covers the origin of living things.
A committee of science teachers, college professors and curriculum experts was involved in reviewing the proposal. The state did not specify why the references to evolution were removed, and by whom, even to educators involved in the process.
Terrie Kielborn, a middle school science teacher in Paulding County who was on the committee, recalled that Stephen Pruitt, the state's curriculum specialist for science, told the panel not to include the word evolution.
"We were pretty much told not to put it in there," Kielborn said. The rationale was community reaction, she said.
"When you say the word evolution, people automatically, whatever age they are, think of the man-monkey thing," Kielborn said.
Oh. Ick! Monkeys! Well, that explains it. Can't have monkey discussed in the same breath as people, can we? Ignorance is infinitely preferable than exposing impressionable youngsters to talk about monkeys.