Legislators oppose revisions to draft science standards on evolution

Dear Superintendent Douglas and the Arizona Board of Education, thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the 2018 draft K-12 science standards.

As members of the Arizona Legislature, and on behalf of the constituencies we represent, we oppose all revisions tampering with the draft science standards’ treatment of evolution and related topics. We find these revisions unnecessary, apparently political and detrimental to the overall quality of education in Arizona.

The revisions compromise the scientific accuracy of the standards, discourage teachers from forthrightly and accurately presenting fundamental science in classrooms, and disrespect members of the writing committee who worked diligently to ensure the standards would prepare students for college and beyond.

Failure to grasp the core concepts of evolution will put Arizona students at a significant disadvantage when it comes to their ability to compete academically, professionally and intellectually after high school.

Evolution is the backbone of the biological sciences; it is as indispensable to our current understanding of life as the theory of gravity is to physics.

Comprehension of evolutionary theory is critical if one hopes to stay current with a vast number of scientific, industrial and technological fields. It is taught matter-of-factly at the college level, at both secular and sectarian universities. It drives major developments in agriculture, medicine, psychology, anthropology, computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.

Whether evolution is absolutely “true” in the colloquial sense used by Superintendent Douglas in recent public statements is irrelevant. In every sense used by scientists, evolutionary theory is fundamentally true: it is continuously corroborated by evidence and experimentation. It is the most widely-accepted explanation for the diversity and ancestry of species today, repeatedly meeting rigorous standards of scientific evidence.

Evolution should be taught uncompromised in our public schools, as our nation’s leading science and science education organizations urge us to do.

At minimum, we ask the following:

  1. For ADE staffers’ changes to the draft to be ignored.
  2. For the original writing committee’s versions to be restored.
  3. For the treatment of evolution (and related topics) to be improved, consistently with recommendations from the public.
  4. For the tampering with the draft science standards to be investigated, ensuring that this shameful performance is not repeated.

Sincerely,

Rep. Athena Salman
Legislative District 26

Sen. Juan Mendez
Legislative District 26

Rep. Randall Friese, MD
Legislative District 9

Rep. Rebecca Rios
Legislative District 27

Rep. Pamela Powers-Hannley
Legislative District 9

Rep. Kirsten Engel
Legislative District 10

Rep. Ken Clark
Legislative District 24

Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon
Legislative District 2

Rep. Charlene Fernandez
Legislative District 4

Rep. Lela Alston
Legislative District 24

Rep. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete
Legislative District 19

Rep/. Wenona Benally
Legislative District 7

Rep. Mitzi Epstein
Legislative District 18

Rep. Kelli Butler
Legislative District 28

Rep. Mark Cardenas
Legislative District 19

Rep. Isela Blanc
Legislative District 26

Rep. Reginald Bolding
Legislative District 27

Rep. Richard Andrade
Legislative District 29

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai
Legislative District 7

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro
Legislative District 2

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