Our standards were going to be much worse when the state superintendent, Kathy Cox, decided to gut evolution education in the standards. (See previous post.) She not only wanted the word “evolution” removed from the standards but also removed roughly 70% of the material pertaining to evolution. Other controversial subjects like the age of the earth were also redacted from the standards by her. (Unlike Minnesota’s (now Florida’s) Yecke, I don’t think Cox was intentionally trying to promote creationism but rather was honestly trying to avoid classroom controversy. Woops.)
Public outrage over her move, especially comments by Jimmy Carter (a nuclear engineer, former President, and Nobel laureate) forced her to add the material back in. However, these shenanigans left little room to improve the standards further, which is why we didn’t manage an A.
One interesting thing to note is that Georgia scored well on its treatment of biology. It’s the other science that made us loose points.
By far the best feature of these standards is their handling of life sciences. Introduction of the important ideas of modern biology begins early, and their development is steady and carefully sequenced. High school work is a real advance over what has preceded it in the primary grades, yet it is solidly based on the acquired background. The treatment of biological diversity and evolution is straightforward and comprehensive; but for unnecessary parsimony on molecular biology, it would be outstanding. (We understand that the intelligent design creationists are very active in Georgia, too, but so far it appears that they haven’t succeeded in mutilating the state standards.) Grade: “B.”
None of this would have been possible without the diligence of Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education.