California State Board Accepts 8 Modified Science-Text Series

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Sacramento--The California State Board of Education has adopted eight junior-high-school science-textbook series that include books rewritten to give fuller coverage to the theory of evolution and a number of other topics.

The revised textbooks, which apparently remain unsatisfactory to some university scientists as well as to creationists, will go into 7th- and 8th-grade classrooms next fall.

This past September, the board rejected the books, submitted by six publishers, on the grounds that they were "watered down." The board called for revisions in the books' treatment of such matters as evolution, human reproduction, and the "ethical considerations" involved in air and noise pollution and toxic waste.

In November, after all six publishers submitted initial revisions, the board asked them to make further changes.

A staff report to the board indicated that some of the texts required only minor changes, while others needed major revisions.

The report said that, for example, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston--which initially did not mention evolution in the index of its textbook--added an entire chapter on the subject. Another firm, Scott Foresman & Company, added nine pages of material on evolution.

The other publishers who submitted revisions were D.C. Heath & Company, Macmillan Publishing Company, Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, and Prentice-Hall Inc. Included in the publishers' series were books on life science, earth science, and physical science.

'Inadequate and Evasive'

The day before the board's 7-to-2 vote last month, members heard testimony against adoption of the revised texts. Science scholars said the books still generally remain "inadequate and evasive," while creationists said they are "forcing our children to conclude there is no God."

John L. Ward, one of the two board members who opposed the adoption of the revised books, said he was concerned about their lack of "negative evidence" about evolution, such as unanswered questions about the theory.

"When you get through reading the chapter, there's only one conclusion you can reach--and that is that we evolved from the lowest forms of life," he said.

But Robert Douglas, chairman of the board's advisory curriculum-development and supplemental-materials commission, said the textbooks are ''the best science books this state has ever had." He maintained that they contain "the most extensive coverage of this topic [evolution] in the nation" for junior-high students.

--Michael Fallon

Vol. 05, Issue 17

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