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Evolution, legislation, litigation



Add state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to the list of lawmakers who had earlier criticized the state's proposed new science standards but who applauded yesterday's 4-3 decision by the Board of Education. By adopting strong standards "while continuing to acknowledge other viewpoints, we are teaching an important lesson in respect," Weatherford said in a written statement late Tuesday.

As reported in today's St. Petersburg Times, two other lawmakers - Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park - also praised the board's decision, which is significant given that both had threatened legislative action if they were not satisfied with the outcome. The board okayed the standards, but in a hotly debated compromise agreed to add "scientific theory" wherever appropriate in the standards, including in the evolution language.

As the Times also reported, some opponents were not happy, and vowed to fight on. One of them, Brandon community activist Terry Kemple, told The Gradebook that because of the new standards, "teachers who want to teach all aspects of evolution ... are going to be intimidated into not teaching all of the evidence." Asked whether a lawsuit was imminent, Kemple said no and pointed to the Legislature. "I don't really see it going that route, but there is that potential," he said. "There are other avenues to pursue first."

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

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