More "dumbing down" in our schools!!!!! I cannot believe that this person is in charge of the state schol system..... State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said she removed references to evolution from the proposed biology curriculum because it is "a buzzword that causes a lot of negative reaction." Cox, fielding questions at a news conference Thursday, defended her decision to remove the word "evolution" from the curriculum. She said it was not designed to appease Georgians who have religious conflicts with the scientific theory that all living things evolved from common ancestry. "This wasn't so much a religion vs. science, politics kind of issue," Cox said. "This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are getting a quality science education in every classroom across the state." She said students need to understand that science is constantly changing and they need to be exposed to all legitimate theories. Cox said that could include the teaching of "intelligent design," though it is not specifically mentioned in the proposed curriculum. Most scientists deride "intelligent design" -- the idea that life arose through a purposeful design by a higher being -- as junk science. But Cox described it as a scientific theory that could be discussed in science classes. "That is a scientific theory," she said. "Now people say, 'Oh, those folks, they're kook scientists.' But it does have scientists, rather than theologians, talking about other ways we may have come into being." Cox said that concepts related to evolution -- including natural selection, adaptation and mutation -- would still be in the curriculum. But scientists argue their inclusion in the teachings doesn't mean much if they aren't tied together through a coherent discussion of evolution. Decision angers many The superintendent's decision to replace references to evolution with "biological changes over time" in the proposed curriculum for middle and high school science has drawn fierce rebukes from some state legislators, scientists and teachers, who say it is an embarrassment for the state and will weaken the education of Georgians. As of Thursday evening more than 1,000 people, including parents, teachers and professors, had signed an online petition objecting to the curriculum change. The state based the biology curriculum on benchmarks put forward by a respected national source, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But while Georgia educators copied many sections, such as the nature of cells and inherited characteristics, they deleted most of the standards relating to the origin of living things. The biology standards are being revised as part of a massive overhaul of the state curriculum designed to have teachers concentrate on critical subject areas. The yearlong process of revising the standards included teachers, college professors and curriculum specialists. The new curriculum is to be voted on in May by the state Board of Education after public comment. Cox said changes are likely to be made based on public input. The superintendent, a former social studies teacher, said the new curriculum would not prohibit teachers from taking a deeper approach to evolution or any other topic. But Georgia's curriculum exam, the CRCT, will be rewritten to align with the new curriculum. And the state exam is the basis for federal evaluation, which encourages schools and teachers to focus on teaching the material that will be tested. Critics say excluding the term "evolution" could prompt teachers to avoid the topic. The state's current biology curriculum does include evolution. Scientists say biology is a gateway course to future studies of the life sciences. And most scientists consider evolution the basis for biology, a scientific explanation for the gradual process that has resulted in the diversity of living things. Cox's reference to evolution as a "buzzword" rankled professors who say it is a widely supported scientific explanation for the diversity of life and something students should understand. And the superintendent's mention of intelligent design sparked criticism by scientists who say it is religion masquerading as science. "There is no science or evidence behind it," said Carlos Moreno, an assistant professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University. "It is an attempt to take the creation story from Genesis and make it into science." 'It's a slippery slope' If the proposed curriculum is adopted, it would be a national embarrassment for Georgia, Moreno said. "It's going to institutionalize poor education in science in this state." Even some parents who have criticized the teaching of evolution as dogmatic say the state has erred with this new proposal. Larry Taylor, who has challenged the teaching of evolution in Cobb County, said the proposal doesn't go far enough in detailing arguments against evolution. "The new standards do nothing but water down the terms used to propagate the same old one-sided arguments, without challenging the students to think critically and examine for themselves if the claims are even true," said Taylor, who has three children. Sen. Connie Stokes (D-Decatur) denounced the proposal on the Senate floor Thursday. "I'm concerned School Superintendent Kathy Cox has taken this position," Stokes said. Students will be lost in college biology classes if they don't know the terminology, she said. "It's another obstacle placed in front of our kids. It's a slippery slope," Stokes said. "This is a much, much bigger issue than what we believe personally."