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Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Georgia may shun 'evolution' in schoolsOh, please. Not the "It's only a theory" argument again.
Georgia students could graduate from high school without learning much about evolution, and may never even hear the word uttered in class.
New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to "evolution" and replace them with the term "biological changes over time," a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject.
Outraged teachers already have told the state it is undercutting the science education of young Georgians.
"Just like any major issue people need to deal with, you need to know the facts," said David Bechler, head of the biology department at Valdosta State University. A member of the committee that worked on the biology standards, Bechler said he was stunned to learn that evolution was not in the final proposal.
"Whether you believe in creationism or not, evolution should be known and understood by the public," he argued.
Cox declined requests for an interview on the issue. A spokesman issued a statement Wednesday that said: "The discussion of evolution is an age-old debate and it is clear that there are those in Georgia who are passionate on both sides of the issue -- we want to hear from all of them."
The state curriculum does not preclude an individual public school system from taking a deeper approach to evolution, or any other topic.Not in so many words, no... But in practice only the best teachers will do anything that the job does not require, just because bureaucrats so thoroughly define/regulate what they have to do that there aren't enough hours in the day to go much bejond. And, in my experience, very rarely will any non-teaching administrator ever do anything they are not legally required to do. You've never seen a blank expression like the one you get when you've asked them to.
And the proposed change would not require school systems to buy new textbooks that omit the word.Heaven (so to speak) forbid.
Access North Georgia (AP) | School cuts devastating, local officials tell lawmakers"Oh, please, nothing special on our account, we can get by for a few more years with these tattered, outdated textbooks. Why, look at this one, it says 'One day man will walk on the moon.' That's true again, isn't it?"
Local school officials painted an alarming picture for state legislators Wednesday of children being taken to school in worn-out buses and using tattered textbooks for their studies if Gov. Sonny Perdues education cuts are approved.
Some also warned they will be forced to look to layoffs and to raise local taxes to absorb the hit.
But Georgia's curriculum exam, the CRCT, will be rewritten to align with the new curriculum. And the state exam is the basis for federal evaluation, which encourages schools and teachers to focus on teaching the material that will be tested.There's more to it than that, of course. Due to the importance of the CRCT, teachers "teach the test", although most non-teaching administrators and some teachers will deny this. The superintendent's guidelines will define the wording used on the test, which will in turn define how the subjects are taught.
New York Times (registration) | Georgia Takes on 'Evolution'What? What?
A proposed set of guidelines for middle and high school science classes in Georgia has caused a furor after state education officials removed the word "evolution" and scaled back ideas about the age of Earth and the natural selection of species.
Georgia's schools superintendent, Kathy Cox, held a news conference near the Capitol on Thursday, a day after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about the proposed changes.And where would they have learned that kind of nonsense, if not in Georgia's public schools? Isn't that the kind of ignorance that we hire teachers to address? Are you conceding defeat? Are the people of Georgia inherently uneducatable?
A handful of states already omit the word "evolution" from their teaching guidelines, and Ms. Cox called it "a buzz word that causes a lot of negative reaction." She added that people often associate it with "that monkeys-to-man sort of thing."
Still, Ms. Cox, who was elected to the post in 2002, said the concept would be taught, as well as "emerging models of change" that challenge Darwin's theories. "Galileo was not considered reputable when he came out with his theory," she said.Oh, God (you should excuse the expression)...
Much of the state's 800-page curriculum was adopted verbatim from the "Standards for Excellence in Education," an academic framework produced by the Council for Basic Education, a nonprofit group. But when it came to science, the Georgia Education Department omitted large chunks of material, including references to Earth's age and the concept that all organisms on Earth are related through common ancestry. "Evolution" was replaced with "changes over time," and in another phrase that referred to the "long history of the Earth," the authors removed the word "long." Many proponents of creationism say Earth is at most several thousand years old, based on a literal reading of the Bible.
Georgia Department of Education | Superintendent Cox Addresses Concerns About Proposed Science CurriculumA "new conference"?
At a new conference that took place at 3:00 PM on Thursday, January 29th, Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox addressed the misconceptions about the draft of our state’s new Georgia Performance Standards Biology Curriculum.
Those who read the draft of the science curriculum will find that the concepts of Darwinism, adaptation, natural selection, mutation, and speciation are actually interwoven throughout the standards at each grade level. Students will learn of the succession through history of scientific models of change, such as those of Lamarck, Malthus, Wallace, Buffone, and Darwin.I don't want educators to "get stuck on a word" to the point that they refuse to use the scientifically-accepted term for an all-but-proven phenomenon that explains the biological world of which they are a part. If people don't like the word "evolution", it's because they don't understand the concept it identifies. Explaining that is called "education", and it's what I pay you for.
They will become scientifically literate by learning the process of scientific inquiry and seeing the way science changes as a result of new discoveries and theories.
They will become familiar with the development of living organisms and their changes over time, including inherited characteristics that lead to survival of organisms and their successive generations.
And they will be prepared for college by having been exposed in detail to the models that the scientific community currently embraces.
Why, then, is the word itself not used in the draft of the curriculum, when the concepts are there? The unfortunate truth is that "evolution" has become a controversial buzzword that could prevent some from reading the proposed biology curriculum comprehensive document with multiple scientific models woven throughout. We don't want the public or our students to get stuck on a word when the curriculum actually includes the most widely accepted theories for biology. Ironically, people have become upset about the exclusion of the word again, without having read the document.
Money/CNN | Pixar dumps DisneyAt least Pixar seems to have a plan, which is more than the Disney Feature Animation unit can say. First Katzenberg left, then Roy Disney, then they shut down their Florida studio, then they showed John Musker and Ron Clements the door after the disappointing box office of "Treasure Planet" (the directing team were also responsible for "Little Mermaid", "Aladdin" and "Hercules")...
Pixar Animation Studios Inc. said Thursday it ended talks with Walt Disney Co. to extend a five-picture deal for Disney to distribute Pixar films.
Pixar, the computer animation pioneer founded by Apple Computer Inc.'s Steve Jobs, said it would begin talks with other companies to distribute its films starting in 2006.
"After ten months of trying to strike a deal with Disney, we're moving on," Pixar CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "We've had a great run together -- one of the most successful in Hollywood history -- and it's a shame that Disney won't be participating in Pixar's future successes."
WSJ Best of the Web | The Politics of DancingConsidering all the junk AOL put in my mailbox, I find it astounding that this should be the thing they choose to ban. (AOL scans e-mail for content when it crosses its servers?)
If you're an America Online user and didn't get our Friday column, here's why: AOL blocks e-mails containing a link to the Dancing Hillary Web page, which we cited in an item on Howard Dean scream remixes. Try sending the Dancing Hillay URL to an AOL account, and your e-mail will bounce with the following message: "The URL contained in your email to AOL members has generated a high volume of complaints."
But never fear, there is a way around this. We've set up a shortcut URL that AOL's filters shouldn't recognize: http://tinyurl.com/252rk.
Reuters | Bill Gates to Be Knighted by Queen Elizabeth
Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates will be awarded an honorary knighthood by Britain's Queen Elizabeth for an outstanding contribution to enterprise, officials said on Monday.
Gates, the world's wealthiest man, will receive the award from the queen at Buckingham Palace, but no date has been set.
"(Gates) is one of the most important business leaders of his age," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement.
"Microsoft technology has transformed business practices and his company has had a profound impact on the British economy," said Straw.
Gates will be made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an honor that dates back to 1917.
But only British and Commonwealth citizens winning the honor are entitled to add Sir in front of their names.
LA Times | Let's Boldly Go Where Man Has Been Before(Registration required, but it's free and worth the trouble.)
By Harrison H. Schmitt
President Bush's plan to propose a permanent return to the moon cannot help but stir memories in an Apollo moonwalker — and raise new hopes for potential exploration. As the last of 12 men to step on the moon, and the only scientist to do so, my recollections are as clear today as 31 years ago.
It was December 1972. President Nixon had just been reelected; the war in Vietnam was in its final years. We landed in a spectacular valley known as Taurus-Littrow, on the southeastern edge of the Sea of Serenity. Apollo 17 was to be the last of the manned American moon missions for at least three decades, but we didn't know it then.
Taurus-Littrow as a name was not chosen with poetry in mind (Taurus was the mountain range above the valley, and Littrow was the crater nearby). The mind's poetry, however, is created not by names but by events — events surrounding not only three days in the lives of three astronauts but the close of an unparalleled decade in human history.
Boston.com | 'Mister Ed' star is still riding show's popularity
"You know, I once asked our director, Arthur Lubin, why they chose me to play Wilbur. He said, `Well, Alan, you look like the kind of a guy a horse would talk to.' "
Arizona Republic | Bush: 'Allow willing workers'Well, there's a reason this is being announced the way it is, as an "appeal to create a program" rather than as a fully-formed proposal. Nonetheless, I have no problems with the idea as it stands.
President Bush on Wednesday appealed to Congress to create an ambitious program that would open U.S. jobs to scores of foreign workers, including the 8 million to 10 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
But the president's proposal stops short of offering permanent legal status, a sore point for Hispanic groups and some members of Congress.
MoveOn.org | Ads Attacked by RNC Chairman Are Not Moveon.Org Voter Fund Ads"Slipped through"?
The Republican National Committee and its chairman have falsely accused MoveOn.org of sponsoring ads on its website which compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler. The claim is deliberately and maliciously misleading.
During December the MoveOn.org Voter Fund invited members of the public to submit ads that purported to tell the truth about the President and his policies. More than 1,500 submissions from ordinary Americans came in and were posted on a web site, bushin30seconds.org, for the public to review.
None of these was our ad, nor did their appearance constitute endorsement or sponsorship by MoveOn.org Voter Fund. They will not appear on TV. We do not support the sentiment expressed in the two Hitler submissions. They were voted down by our members and the public, who reviewed the ads and submitted nearly 3 million critiques in the process of choosing the 15 finalist entries.
We agree that the two ads in question were in poor taste and deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process.
Reuters | Writer Deported for Insulting PresidentWell? Dixie Chicks? Barbra Streisand? Bill Maher? Alec Baldwin? Do any of you have anything to add?
Zambia said Monday it had given a controversial British writer 24 hours to leave the country for insulting President Levy Mwanawasa and calling two of his ministers "baboons."
Home Affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba said Roy Clarke, a satirical writer for the privately owned daily Post newspaper, was told Monday to leave Zambia Tuesday.
Clarke was not available for comment.
Clarke, who writes a column known as the "The Spectator," referred last Thursday to Mwanawasa as a "foolish elephant" and two of his ministers as "baboons" when Mwanawasa visited a game park for his Christmas holiday.
"Yes, he will be deported to Britain," Mumba told Reuters after being asked to confirm reports of Clarke's deportation.
"We will buy a ticket for him on British Airways because he cannot continue to live with people he thinks are baboons," Mumba said.
Los Angeles Times | Can We Ever Commute as Jetsons Did?
To accommodate millions of vehicles zipping through the sky at high speeds, the nation's air traffic control system would need to be revamped, and largely automated. The craft themselves would need to be virtually auto-piloted — enter a destination, and off you go. No pilot's license necessary.
Some, like [Bob Van der Linden, curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum], don't see it happening.
"It's possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath. These things have been said before," the aviation historian said. "Can you imagine the average driver on an L.A. freeway in an airplane overhead? What a frightening experience that would be."