New chancellor’s response to evolution question

New Florida K-12 chancellor Frances Haithcock was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times education blog The Gradebook. In the course of that interview, Haithcock was hit with the dreaded evolution question.

I do have to ask you about the exciting debate over evolution and where you stand on that one, if you want to plunge in there.

Well. Uh. (pause) I just talked to our science person the other day … to try to get an update on where we were. … They are compiling the information that came in. So I really want to look at that first before I make any definitive statement about it one way or the other.

I am interested in whether you have taken any position. Your predecessor had taken some heat for her position on the issue of evolution and intelligent design and so forth. What do you think belongs in the curriculum?

Well. No. 1, I really want to review the input before I take a position. But No. 2, I am more than excited that they took on these science standards to begin with. Because of all of the positive things that came out of Florida, one of the big negative things was the grade of the science standards. It’s unacceptable for a state to have that. There’s been a whole lot of hard work done on that. I did some reading on all of this before I came here as far as who comprised the committees and how much public input they were getting. I think they’ve done a really good job with that.

As I understand it, from the initial review from a number of different outside sources, they feel like these standards are almost 100 percent improved from what they were. So there’s just so much more to the standards than just the one word, the “e word.” Before I really come out with any type of statement on that, I am going to review what is said by the people in Florida. And as I said, that is being compiled right now, so it won’t be a long period of time before we address that. And of course the science standards are going to the State Board on February the 19th. And there will be a vote by the board at that time that will tell everybody the answer on where they are with it….

First of all, when asked to take a position, the correct answer is that there is only one position: science belongs in the science classroom. Supposed “other theories” that have absolutely no basis in science should not be in the science classroom. Period. However, it is unfortunately understandable that not everyone (actually, hardly anyone) is comfortable speaking about science. So, I have to give Haithcock some credit for saying she wants to do some research, but I have to mark her down for wanting to go to the public comments for that research. Go to the subject matter experts, Ms. Haithcock, those people who actually worked on the standards and those organizations that provided professional input.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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One Response to New chancellor’s response to evolution question

  1. Ian says:

    I absolutely agree. One of the roots of the issue is this idea that majority rule somehow applies to competition between theories. There still is such a thing as a call to authority, and scientific authority doesn’t lose its meaning just because information is more available than it has ever been before. I would like to see Haithcock asking local professors and other experts rather than testing the waters. Science does not, or rather should not, operate by poll.

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