The St. Petersburg Times did an interview with a science standards writer from the local area. Kathryn Bylsma seems a little bit muddled in her response to the questions about evolution. She correctly states that “In the science community, this is the information that we have.” But then she muddies things up by saying that evolution is not a law. Yes, she’s right that it’s not a law, but the context of the statement makes it sound like the general public has a right to be saying evolution is “just a theory.” In other words, she just wasn’t clear or precise. And what is with that part where she says that one shouldn’t say that most scientists accept evolution? I don’t get that. I get the impression that she is uncomfortable with the subject, and perhaps she also just didn’t interview well.
However, one significant part that needs to be highlighted whenever we talk about the science standards and evolution’s place in the standards, is that other, world class, standards were used as guides.
How did you consider all the public comment?
We were instructed first and foremost last summer to create, to form, world-class standards. … We used the PISA standards that rated Finland first and foremost in almost every area. The Singapore standards were very high as well, internationally. Then we were instructed to use Massachusetts and Indiana, the National Academy of Sciences. We used a lot of world-class standards. Then we took into account developmentally appropriate data. Taking Science To School, an awesome text from the National Academy. … It’s been a long process.
[Edited to add: the paper’s education blog has an extended version of the interview, including some discussion of climate change! See, evolution isn’t the only controversial issue in the public. Also, the folks in the comments make some very good points concerning Bylsma’s reluctance to be firm about evolution in this interview.]