BESE approves new science standards with amendment regarding evolution

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has approved new standards with a critical amendment that will allow Louisiana teachers the ability to question the theory of evolution in science courses.

The final part for the new standards was approved Wednesday morning. The prior science standards had not been updated in two decades, which is the third oldest standards in the nation and students in Louisiana rank No. 45 in the nation in science assessments.

The new standards were approved, but a key amendment was added that allows teachers the ability to use alternative theories to evolution due to recent challenges to Darwin's theory.

The new standards were drawn up by a review committee that was filled primarily by area educators. It was unanimously approved Tuesday after nearly a two-hour debate, which prompted the inclusion of the amendment.

"The reason we put that in the policy now is to remind everyone that the ability to get other supplementary materials approved is there," said Gary Jones, BESE president. "So, the teacher's not restricted to teaching only this one theory."

WAFB reached out to the director of the Louisiana ACLU, Marjorie Esman. She said she's concerned that this will lead to religion being taught in classrooms, but since the amendment leaves the decision up to individual teachers, she hopes educators will stick to the textbooks.

"The ability of the right to teachers, so called right to teachers, to teach religion instead of science in the classroom is a serious concern," Esman said. "And we just have to hope that science teachers will continue to teach science and leave religion for places of worship, which is where it belongs."

When asked if the ACLU would take any legal action, Esman would not comment at this time.

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