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Scopes redux?

WHEN GEORGIA Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox called evolution a "buzzword" and proposed eliminating it from the state's curriculum guidelines, she found out just how right -- and wrong -- she was.


Former President Jimmy Carter blasted the plan, and the 55,000-member National Science Teachers Association called it "a disservice to the students of Georgia." The public's e-mails flew -- 900 since Cox's news conference last week -- with most calling for the word to remain right where it belongs: in the performance standards for the teaching of biology.

Yesterday Cox reversed her recommendation -- a welcome move, but not enough, according to the association, which claims the superintendent is still promoting weakened science standards that omit "central and related concepts needed to understand evolution."

Here's hoping Georgians -- who reacted loudly and quickly to the creationist hokum -- continue to press for clarity in the guidelines and to demand the teaching of solid, factual science that is driven by no political or religious agenda.

Cox had proposed replacing the word "evolution" with the phrase "biological change over time," which would have sent a troubling message to teachers and students by casting doubt on a bedrock principle of science.

The National Center for Science Education, which promotes the teaching of evolution, reports that creationists have tried to chip away at solid science in 35 states since 2001, and that five states -- Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma -- do not use the word in their teaching guidelines.

Such thinking has no place in today's world -- a place of stunning scientific discovery that demands clarity of speech and thought, not weasel words and the sanctimonious promotion of ignorance.

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