Committee approves new science standards for students, evolution clause on hold
Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 6:16 p.m., Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:43 p.m.
COLUMBIA - An
education committee approved new science standards for students except
for one clause: the one that involves the use of the phrase "natural
Clause in question
"Conceptual Understanding: Biological evolution occurs
primarily when natural selection acts on the genetic variation in a
population and changes the distribution of traits in that population
over multiple generations.
Performance Indicators: Students who can demonstrate this understanding can:
and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make
predictions about the long term biological changes that occur within two
populations of the same species that become geographically isolated
from one another.
From page 79 of the South Carolina Academic Standards and Performance Indicators for Science
The South Carolina Education Oversight
Committee met Monday to review and approve the new set of science
standards that the Department of Education will begin implementing by
the fall of 2014 for students. Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued
against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are
other theories students deserve to learn.
"Natural selection is a direct reference to Darwinism,"
Fair said after the meeting. "And the implication of Darwinism. is that
it is start to finish."
Fair argued South Carolina's
students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers
are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is
for the schools to teach the controversy.
that natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong," Fair said. "I
don't have a problem with teaching theories. I don't think it should be
taught as fact."
Ultimately, the committee approved
all measures except that clause, which now gets sent back to the
committee level for review. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais
said after the meeting he was not surprised by the debate that took
"This has been going on here in South Carolina
for a long a time," Zais said. "We ought to teach both sides and let
students draw their own conclusions."
debate taken up by an advocacy group against the use of the word
"critically" when it comes to the standards of natural selection and
climate change was largely ignored. College of Charleston biology
professor Robert Dillon said in a previous interview the use of
"critically" on two pages of the entire packet means more than it
"They're trying to make evolution appear
controversial, they're trying to make it somehow different," said Dillon
previously. "Well, it is controversial, but the controversy is
political or religious, it's not scientific. It's this richly symbolic
Dillon asked in January to have the word
"critically" added to the other 129 "analyze" clauses in the packet to
avoid singling out climate change and evolution. The package approved on
Monday did not take his request into consideration. He could not
immediately be reached for comment.
meeting, there was also debate on how quickly the new standards will be
fully implemented. Briana Timmerman, director of the Office of
Instructional Practices and Evaluations for the state's department of
education, said implementing standards is a stressful process for
teachers, who have to find ways to transition into the new requirements.
will likely take on aspects of the new standards during the next year
and will likely be fully teaching the newer standards by the deadline,
which is 2016-17, she said.
"They (teachers) will
want to start improving their knowledge in those areas," Timmerman said
during the meeting. "That gives the teachers time to transition in a
much more meaningful way."