A group of Kentucky Republicans is up in arms over a state testing program that requires high school students preparing for college to have an understanding of biological evolution.
When the Republican state legislature voted in 2009 to link Kentucky’s testing system to national education standards, it opened the door for biology exams that would test students’ proficiency in the field of evolution. State Rep. Carl Rollins, a Democrat, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that this was standard practice, as ACT, the company that coordinates Kentucky’s testing program, developed the material by surveying biology teachers across the country on which studies they believed should be included. They responded, rather unsurprisingly, that biological evolution was an important concept for incoming college students to grasp.
But state Republicans are now recoiling at their decision. They claim it doesn’t give the theory of creationism a fair shake and places undue emphasis on the teaching of evolution, which they maintain exists only as a “theory.”
While the debate has been rehashed countless times, Vincent Cassone, chairman of the University of Kentucky biology department and a member of the committee that helped developed ACT’s testing curriculum, told the Herald-Leader that the Republicans’ rejection of evolution was incomprehensible.
“The theory of evolution is the fundamental backbone of all biological research,” he said. “There is more evidence for evolution than there is for the theory of gravity, than the idea that things are made up of atoms, or Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is the finest scientific theory ever devised.”
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