Arizona superintendent fails in last attempt to limit evolution teaching Not
reelected, sees standards written by science educators adopted over her

John Timmer <> - 10/23/2018,
3:06 PM
[image: Empty classroom with whiteboards.]
Steven Brewer / Flickr

Earlier this year, we covered
an attempt by Arizona's superintendent of Public Instruction to alter the
state's science education standards. Superintendent Diane Douglas seemingly
directed her staff to edit a set of standards prepared by educators so that
numerous mentions of the word "evolution" were eliminated. Climate change
was later diminished in a similar manner.
But since that time, the news has been almost uniformly good.
Superintendent Douglas lost in a primary election to a fellow Republican,
her edits to the school standards were rejected by the state school board,
and a last-ditch effort to swap in educational guidelines from a religious
college wasn't even given serious consideration.

As we noted in our earlier coverage, Douglas has in the past suggested that
schools teach intelligent design, which is the idea that life arose and
diversified due to the intervention of an intelligent agent rather than
evolution. It's an idea that was generated for religious purposes, and its
teaching has been ruled an imposition of religion by the courts. She has
also misunderstood the status of a scientific theory in suggesting that it
reflected the idea that our knowledge of evolution is uncertain. These
beliefs seem to have motivated her intervention into the science standards.

In September, however, Douglas' attempts to inject her beliefs into
Arizona's classrooms ran into a couple of problems. To begin with, she
faced a number of challengers during the Republican primary for her
position; two of them received more votes
than she did, meaning she won't have her party's nomination for
re-election. Then, at a state school board meeting, the Arizona Science
Teachers Association suggested a number of changes that restored details of
climate change and evolution to the proposed standards.

Faced with the potential of seeing the expert-approved standards adopted,
Douglas made a last-ditch effort to block them. Early yesterday, it was
that Douglas planned to attempt a complete substitution of the science
standards, getting rid of both her own edited version and the one with the
educator-approved modifications. In their place, she had substitute
material developed for charter schools by a private religious college. At
the board meeting later that day, however, no other board members were
apparently willing to second the motion
to even consider the change.

Instead, the board approved the standards with the edits provided by the
science teachers' organization. With that, the drama over science education
in the state has hopefully drawn to a close.