Arizona Education Department Evolves Away from Evolution 


The Arizona Department of Education is revising its science standards for K-12 education by……. deleting several references to evolution and calling it a “theory” in other parts of the document.

This is what it looks like, per the Arizona Republic, which used bolding and strikethroughs to reveal what language is being changed or removed:

In one area of the draft focusing on life science essential standards for high school students, “evolution” is replaced with the words “biological diversity.” This section reads: “Obtain, evaluate, and communicate evidence that describes how inherited traits in a population can lead to evolution biological diversity.”
In an area regarding the “Core Ideas for Knowing Science,” it reads, “The theory of evolution seeks to make clear the unity and diversity of organisms, living and extinct, is the result of evolution organisms. Our countless generations changes resulting from natural diversity within a species are believed to lead to the selection of those individuals best suited to survive under certain conditions.”

The National Center for Science Education and the Secular Coalition for Arizona oppose the proposed changes in the draft, but the Arizona Department of Education has defended the them: “The standards focus on 14 core ideas regarding science and engineering that teachers use to create their curriculum.”

Tory Roberg of the Secular Coalition for Arizona accused Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas—who believes in “intelligent design,” which is a kind of sub-genre of creationism that claims that the complexity of the universe and life as we know it didn’t happen by chance and that God did the damn thing, should be taught alongside evolution—of influencing the draft.

But in an email to the Arizona Republic, Douglas insisted that she doesn’t want her not-at-all scientific beliefs to be included in the Arizona Science Standards: “Evolution is still a standard that will be taught under the Arizona Science Standards. In addition, you will not find creationism or Intelligent Design included anywhere in the Arizona Science Standards.”

If Douglas ever needs backup, however, she can find an ally in Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. At her confirmation hearing in 2017, she said that she believes in science courses that “[allow] students to exercise critical thinking.” It’s a cute dodge, but DeVos’s money tells a different story: According to ProPublica, she and her family have donated millions of dollars to conservative organizations that advocate intelligent design.

Schools have similarly tried to use the “critical thinking” loophole to challenge evolution in the classroom. Kansas and Ohio gave it a shot in the 2000s, but the science standards have since been rescinded.

The Department of Education is accepting public comment on the proposal through May 28, followed by a final draft and a vote. What a fucking mess.

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