Evolution in Alabama

On February 10, 2005, the Alabama State Board of Education adopted a revised set of state science standards [Link expired] (the Alabama Course of Study: Science, or ACOSS). The treatment of evolution in the revised ACOSS remains weak: evolution is explicitly mentioned only once in the high school biology standards, under the section on protective adaptations. Evolutionary concepts such as hierarchical classification are described without mentioning evolution. During the board meeting, John Schweinsberg of Alabama Citizens for Science Education protested that evolution was obviously downplayed for religious reasons, despite the fact that "[i]t's just as basic to biology as the periodic table is to chemistry. Teaching biology without evolution is like teaching chemistry without the periodic table" (quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser, February 10, 2005).

The revised ACOSS also continues to contain, in its preface, a version of the evolution disclaimer originally mandated in the 1996 version of ACOSS, but evolution is no longer described as controversial. The relevant portions of the three versions of the disclaimer:

  • 1996: This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans.
  • 2001: The theory of evolution by natural selection is a controversial theory that is included in this textbook. It is controversial because it states that natural selection provides the basis for the modern scientific explanation for the diversity of living things.
  • 2005: The theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory included in this document, states that natural selection provides the basis for the modern scientific explanation for the diversity of living things.
What prompted the latest changes in the disclaimer is unknown: it is possible that they are intended to shelter the disclaimer against the sort of legal challenge that was brought against the disclaimer used in Cobb County, Georgia.

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