S.C. Sen. Mike Fair Won't Let Evolution into Science Curriculum

| by Allison Geller

South Carolina Sen. Mike Fair is not allowing “natural selection” into the standards of science knowledge for students, arguing that it shouldn’t “be taught as fact.”

The South Carolina Department of Education will begin implementing the new standards in fall. But when the state’s Education Oversight Committee met Monday, Fair, a Republican from Greenville, insisted that natural selection should only be presented as one of several theories of evolution, reports the Post and Courier.

"Natural selection is a direct reference to Darwinism," Fair said. "And the implication of Darwinism is that it is start to finish."

As it stands now, the clause of the standards reads:

“Conceptual Understanding: Biological evolution occurs primarily when natural selection acts on the genetic variation in a population and changes the distribution of traits in that population over multiple generations.”

Students are supposed to demonstrate their knowledge of evolution by their ability to: “Analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another.”

“To teach that natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong," Fair said. "I don't have a problem with teaching theories. I don't think it should be taught as fact."

A “creation by design” theory had been pitched for the standards as an alternative theory to evolution, but was rejected in January by the Board of Education, according to The State. All of the standards were approved by the Oversight Committee at Monday's meeting except the evolution clause, holding up the process of implementing the new cirriculum. 

Rob Dillon, a College of Charleston biology professor and president of South Carolinians for Science Education, said that the evolution clause is being “singled out for religious and political reasons.”

 “Mike Fair singles out evolution for special treatment. It is no more scientifically controversial than photosynthesis,” Dillon said.

But according to State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais, the debate that took place at the meeting was no surprise.

"This has been going on here in South Carolina for a long a time," Zais told the Post and Courier. "We ought to teach both sides and let students draw their own conclusions."

Sources: Post and CourierThe State