Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Evolution Foes Prep for State School Battle; IT'S BACK Longtime Evolution vs. Creation Debate Is Being Pushed Again by State Sen. Stephen Wise

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Evolution Foes Prep for State School Battle; IT'S BACK Longtime Evolution vs. Creation Debate Is Being Pushed Again by State Sen. Stephen Wise

Article excerpt

Byline: ABEL HARDING

Forget the decade-long debate that has swirled around the FCAT. Think no more of the weeklong fracas over the future of high school sports in Duval County. Florida could soon find itself at the center of a century-old fight over the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms.

State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, is leading a charge that calls for a "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution."

Critics say that Wise's legislation could open the door for teachers and students to challenge evolution, which they say is settled science.

"You can have critical analysis of everything, but the idea that you should single out evolution for critical analysis is problematic," said Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director at California-based National Center for Science Education. "It's recognized by the scientific community as the foundation of modern biology."

Wise, who did not return numerous calls from the Times-Union over two days for this story, told a newspaper last week that his bill is merely intended to allow freedom in Florida classrooms.

"Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?" Wise told the Tampa Tribune. He called the other theory "non-evolution."

But experts like Rosenau say Wise's argument doesn't hold water. And they say it could hurt the international perception of Florida's public education, already reeling from the talk of draconian budget cuts and its effect on the state.

"To prepare people to be educated citizens ... they need to have an understanding of evolution," he said. "To undermine that is a problem. I think it could hurt students."

Rosenau said the state has strong science standards that took effect in 2008. Those standards say "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence."

Wise has tried to fight those guidelines before. …

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