Students to Decide If Evolution Is Theory or Fact in Alabama's New Science Standards

A young visitor observes a 3D model of an australopythecus afarensis during a visit to the "Gallery of Humankind. Our evolution, our body" exhibition at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels, Belgium, May 22, 2015. |

Alabama's Department of Education has voted in favor of new educational standards that will "require" students to learn about the theory of evolution.

Last week the state's Board of Education unanimously approved new science course standards meant to update current ones approved 10 years ago.

Malissa Valdes-Hubert, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Education, directed The Christian Post to both the 2005 and recently approved standards.

Valdes-Hubert also explained some of the differences in how science in general and evolution in particular are going to be taught, effective next year.

"The changes in this course of study, will be that students will not memorize facts, but be engaged in science and engineering practices to evaluate evidence and develop their own understanding of scientific ideas," said Valdes-Hubert.

Lucy Exhibit at the Creation Museum
The new holographic exhibit at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The exhibit was established as part of the celebration of the 5-year anniversary of the Creation Museum's founding in 2007. |

"The focus is on students examining scientific evidence that is used to form and support the theory as they understand the theory of evolution. Students will be looking at the same evidence that is used by scientists and drawing their own conclusions."

The 2005 standards document stated that "students should understand the nature of evolutionary theories."

"They should learn to make distinctions among the multiple meanings of evolution, to distinguish between observations and assumptions used to draw conclusions, and to wrestle with the unanswered questions and unresolved problems still faced by evolutionary theory," read the document.

"Instructional materials chosen to implement the content standards within this course of study should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

By contrast, the recently approved standards, which will go into effect in 2016, emphasize that students are required to learn about the workings of the theory of evolution.

"The theory of evolution has a role in explaining unity and diversity of life on Earth. This theory is substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence," reads the 2015 standards.

"Therefore, this course of study requires our students to understand the principles of the theory of evolution from the perspective of established scientific knowledge."

The section in the 2015 standards that addresses evolution concludes with a single sentence noting that there are "diverse views associated with the theory of evolution."

Over the past several decades, many states have debated over how public schools should teach origins, especially in regards to evolution, and alternative ideas like Creationism and Intelligent Design.

But there's another issue surrounding how evolution is taught in public school classrooms that Alabama's Education Board will tackle this year, according to The Associated Press.

"Textbooks used in Alabama science classes have carried a disclaimer sticker for years stating that evolution is a 'controversial theory,' not fact, and the new course of study doesn't change the warnings, which were advocated by Christian conservatives," reported the AP.

"A committee that will review science texts could consider whether to remove or alter the stickers, officials said. A public hearing is set for Nov. 9 in Montgomery."

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