Lamarck lives on in Florida

At hearings on new science standards in Florida, bizarre misconceptions seem to be the rule:

“I think they could be teaching a lie,” Oscar Howard, superintendent of Taylor County Public Schools said of evolution. “There’s not a place on me where they took the tail off.”

Unless he is suggesting that the new standards, which would finally place Florida among the states whose standards use the word “evolution,” are also pushing bizarre Lamarckian evolutionary ideas, this statement is a non sequitur. The Taylor County school board recently passed a motion condemning the new standards.

The existing standards got an F in a national survey of science standards in 2005, with reviewers writing “The superficiality of the treatment of evolutionary biology alone justifies the grade ‘F,’ but there is in any case scant mitigation elsewhere in these documents. Florida standards are in revision. We hope that the work will be fruitful.”

Larry Lerner, a co-author of that report, reviewed the new standards, and thinks they are a big move in the right direction. When I spoke with him a few weeks ago, he was hoping against hope that the Florida Board of Education, all appointed by Jeb Bush, will listen to science education experts, and not insert politics or religion into the science class. Kansas lived through that, and I have to say that the late night talk shows can crack jokes on this subject even without a full staff of writers. Florida should think about whether it wants to be in Kansas’s boat.


  1. #1 Karl
    January 9, 2008

    I want to try to fill in for the writers. Feel free to pass this on to Leno or Letterman.
    Yes, you obviously don’t have a tail. And, although we can’t see the hole where they removed the brain, it’s obvious that you don’t have one of those either.

  2. #2 Giles
    January 10, 2008

    Did they remove all the plastic skeletons from the schools in Florida? All Mr. Howard would have to do is look at one of those to see the remedial tail. (Or get himself an x-ray of his posterior).

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